John Pierpont Morgan was born in Hartford Connecticut on April 17, 1837, and educated in Europe and the University of Gottingen where he was considered a mathematical genius. In his early twenties he acted as American representative of his father’s London banking firm, and during the years of the American Civil War and afterwards in the development of American industry and railroads played a major role as a banker and organizer, with his credit considered safer than that of the United States government. One of the foremost collectors of the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, he acquired major works of art wherever in the world he was travelling, most of which are today in American museums. He died in Rome on March 13, 1913.
In the Times Picayune, New Orleans, Tuesday, October 6, 1942, Muller-Ury told a reporter the following: ‘Morgan never missed a sitting. When I commented on this, he said, “And why should I break an appointment? I have no patience with people who do!”’
Frederick Lewis Allen, The Great Pierpont Morgan, New York, 1948
Cass Canfield, The Incredible Pierpont Morgan: Financier & Art Collector, London, 1974.
Louis Auchincloss, J. P. Morgan: The Financier as Collector, New York, 1990
Jean Strouse, Morgan: American Financier, New York 1999.
This picture was almost certainly that mentioned in the letter dated September 9, 1904 from Herbert Satterlee to the artist, and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in January 1905 along with the three quarter seated portrait of James J. Hill according to the Chicago Chronicle of January 22, 1905, where it was said to be ‘especially flattering’ and ‘…in many respects as powerful as the Sargent across the way of P.A.B. Widener…’ The picture was returned to the artist through Knoedler’s on January 27, 1905 (Domestic Letterbook January 12, 1905—April 8, 1905, No. 94). McClure’s Magazine for October 1910 stated that this version was exhibited in 1905 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
It is possible that this picture was retained by the artist for exhibition purposes and it was this version that was sold in the artist’s studio sale, where an extra lot called ‘Portrait of J.P. Morgan’ was sold, Plaza Art Galleries, 9-11, East 59th Street, New York, Friday evening, December 5th, 1947, Sale 2813, as Lot 75B (Fetched $12.50 – marked copy in Frick Art Reference Library).