MERRIAM, William Rush

Three-quarter length seated in brown chair; at right a table with books papers and inkwell; red drapes at upper right. Oil on canvas, 125.6 x 100.2cm (49.1/2” x 39. 1/2”), signed lower left ‘A. Muller-Ury.’

Minnesota State Capitol, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Official Governor’s portrait. Location No. AV1996.9.12.

Die Ostschweiz, St. Gallen, Switzerland, February 13, 1894
Urner Wochenblatt, Altdorf, Switzerland, February 17, 1894

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William Rush Merriam was born on July 26, 1849 at Wadham’s Mills, New York, the son of Colonel John Lafayette Merriam (1825-1895) and Mahala Kimpton DeLano (1831-1857), and died in Port Sewall, Florida, to where he had retired, on February 18, 1931. He started work in 1871 as a clerk at the Merchants National Bank in St. Paul, and from 1883 to 1887 he served in, and in 1887 became speaker of, the Minnesota House of Representatives; he eventually became the eleventh Governor of Minnesota in 1889 and held office until 1893.

According to the Minnesota Historical Society this was commissioned by the State of Minnesota. 

Painted in 1892 perhaps. A pair of portraits, which were presumably of she and her husband the Republican governor, were exhibited at Stevens and Robertson, St. Paul, according to the Pioneer Press October 27, 1892.

In July 1895 the New York Mercury reported that Muller-Ury had just been in St. Paul painting the portraits of Governor and Mrs. Merriam. It may be that these were two more portraits and not the earlier pair which were mentioned in The American University Magazine, May 1895, Vol. II, No. 1.