SIMONDS, Marguerite (Later Mrs P. Arthur Drury; Later Mrs Charles Waring)

Half-length, dressed in blue velvet, holding a pekinese dog. Oil on canvas, 30” x 25”, signed lower right ‘A Muller Ury’.

Private Collection, London, UK.

The artist; Jessica Dragonette; her husband, Nicholas M. Turner; Mrs. Jean Forbes Robertson, Ocean Grove, New Jersey; gift to the present owner 1994.

American Art News, Vol 14, No. 37, New York, August 19, 1916, p. 6
The Washington Times, Wednesday evening, November 26, 1919 pp.1-2.

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The sitter (1900-1985) was the daughter of Mrs Barker Gummere (later Mrs Clarence Calhoun); Muller-Ury painted both mother and daughter in August 1916 at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. For the story of the double commission and the subsequent lawsuit, see under GUMMERE, Mrs Barker. The present photograph was taken by Mary Hopson.

According to the The Washington Times, Wednesday evening, November 26, 1919, p. 2, Miss Calhoun (i.e. Miss Simonds) was ‘the only young woman in Washington on whom the Prince [of Wales] called during his visit. The call was the result of the discovery that her mother is a cousin of Sir Douglas Gordon, a British officer who lost his life in the late war and of Lord Garloch, only son of the Earl of Mar, premier peer of Scotland. She is related through her paternal grandmother, who was Miss Sarah A. Calhoun to the patriotic statesman, John G. Calhoun.’ She is described there as ‘the most beautiful girl of the season at the Southern Relief Ball in Washington. She was a debutante last year.’

When the portrait was acquired by the present owner it became immediately apparent that the artist had repainted the background sometime in the late 1930s or 1940s just as he had done so for several other portraits, for example, Lord Strathcona and Lina Cavalieri.  It proved almost impossible to remove this overpaint with the strongest solvents, and some of the background was therefore toned down to make it less prominent (1998).