PARKER, Judge Alton Brooks

Waist-length. Oil on canvas, 27.3/4” x 21”, signed upper right ‘A Muller-Ury’

Senate House State Historic Site, Kingston, New York. (SH1981-77)

New York Herald, October 6, 1904
New York Tribune, October 6, 1904
Kingston Daily Freeman, New York, October 12, 1926

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The sitter (May 14, 1852 – May 10, 1926) was an American judge, best known as the Democrat who lost the 1904 presidential election to incumbent to Theodore Roosevelt in a landslide.

According to the New York Herald for October 6, 1904, Parker sat for a second painting which was to be made by Muller-Ury for the Judge’s wife. Oddly the New York Tribune of the same day reports that Parker had sat at the artist’s studio the day before but remarks ‘Down at Republican headquarters they refer to this picture as “the one that was painted in the year Roosevelt was elected”.’

On November 10, 1904, the artist received the following letter from the Judge’s wife (who would die in 1917) who addressed him from Rosemount, Esopus-on-the-Hudson (artist’s papers):

‘My dear Mr. Muller-Ury
Thank you so much for the beautiful portrait of the Judge, It is a marvellous piece of work. I have hung it in my library, and I think in a good light. It came this noon. I hope you will come to us some time and see it.
Very sincerely yours,
Mary L. Parker.’
The following day the Judge himself wrote saying that he was ‘…very grateful to you for giving Mrs. Parker the pleasure of possessing that portrait. I am sure you could not possibly have done it better…’

On May 10, 1926, only a few days after recovering from pneumonia Parker died from a heart attack while riding in his car through New York’s Central Park, four days before his 74th birthday. He was survived by Mrs. Charles Mercer Hall, his daughter from his first wife, two grandchildren, and his second wife.

The picture may possibly have initially belonged initially to the Ulster County Bar Association, for the Kingston Daily Freeman, New York, Tuesday evening, October 12, 1926 reported that it had been left to them under the will of the Judge. (The second Mrs. Alton Brooks Parker, Amelia Day “Amy” Campbell, whom Parker had married in 1923, sent the cutting to the artist with her black-edged card on which was written ‘I thought you might be interested, dear Mr. Muller-Ury, in the disposition of your portrait of my husband.’)