SCHEIDE, William Taylor

Half-length, seated behind a desk before bookshelves, dressed in a dark suit holding a cigar stump in his right hand, a silver-topped glass bottle to the left, papers to the right. Oil on canvas.

Scheide Library, Princeton University.

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The sitter was born on April 20, 1847 in Philadelphia, and made his fortune in the laying of oil pipelines. On December 13, 1885, at the age of 38, William is listed as the Manager of the United Pipe Line Division of the National Transit Company, a partner in the Northwestern Natural Gas Company and a Director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Pipe Lines of Oil City. William is also listed as the National Manager of pipelines for Standard Oil which is a Rockefeller enterprise. He retired at 42 which was an easy decision to make as he had made more than enough money, and he really wanted to collect books. He married Ida Sarah Hinsdale (1850-1921) who came from Syracuse, New York, on December 17, 1873. In 1884 William built a beautiful Queen Ann style of home at 214 W. Main Street that still stands today. He died in Titusville, Pennsylvania, on October 26, 1907. He was the father of John Hinsdale Scheide.


Julian P. Boyd, The Scheide Library: A Summary View of its History and its Outstanding Books, Together with an Account of its two Founders: William Taylor Scheide and John Hinsdale Scheide, privately printed, 1947.

Painted in 1924, and based upon a photograph. In a letter dated December 3, 1924 (artist’s papers) the sitter’s son, who commissioned the picture wrote as follows:

‘My dear Mr. Ury:

The portrait of my father arrived the day you were to have left for California, and as I understood, you are to return Friday of this week I have purposely delayed acknowledgement of it until now.

I am, I think, even more pleased with the portrait now that I have hung it in my library, than I was when I saw it in your studio. To my mind it fits into the setting of the room very satisfactorily. I am enjoying it so much in its present location that I cannot yet bring myself to say that I shall be willing to send it down for the exhibition at Duveen’s in January. However, I will wait and see how I feel about it at that time. Meanwhile, will you kindly give me as soon as you learn it the exact dates of the exhibition, and inform me how much before the exhibition opens, it will be necessary to have the portrait there?

In accordance with the memoranda in your note of November 11th, I am handing you my check to your order for $3606.75 covering full payment for the portrait and frame. At your convenience will you kindly inform me that you have received this check?

I do not notice your signature on the portrait, and I am asking whether it is your custom or not, to sign your work.

A number of my friends who were acquainted with my father have been in to see the portrait, and all of them express very high appreciation, not only of the life-likeness of the portrait, but its artistic quality.

             Very cordially yours, John H. Scheide.’

The photograph in the artist’s papers is stamped Edward Heim of 67 West 67th Street, New York.