SMITH, Mrs Charles Henry

Seated sideways on a chair her right arm draped over the back. Dressed presumably in white, tightly corseted at the waist, wearing gloves above the elbow. Signed upper right ‘A. Muller Ury.’

Present whereabouts unknown.

Baltimore Evening News, January 21, 1892.


Amongst the artist’s papers is a large fragment of a letter written from 1311 Charles Street North (in Baltimore), dated merely, ‘Tuesday A.M.’, and certainly from this sitter:

‘My dear Mr. Ury –

“Birdie” hangs in the little drawing room & is simply perfect & what is more Mr. Smith is sincerely pleased with it & I am more happy than I have been in a long while = When I wrote you last & as I did I did it all for your own sake as I felt how much I owed you and wanted the obligation to fall upon Charlie as he could substantiate my sentiments & if you had not written him & merely let me attend to it, it might have been unheeded.

When the portrait came I sent Mr. Smith a note to send to Myers & Hedian for men to hang it which he did & it was in place & settled when he came in = he said “now if I dont like it I shall say so” – & I said it so firmly that when he did express himself I knew it was the truth = he thinks there is just something wrong with the mouth just what he cant tell but on the whole face thinks it splendid & he is really more enthusiastic than I could imagine him over anything pertaining to “poor me”. Cant you come down & spend Sunday or as many days before as you can – I think it would please you to see how much he appreciates it & think he may be of assistance to you he wants everybody to see it & an artist here who has been after him for some time to have a portrait of me – he says he shall send for him to come & see it as he wants to show it to him.

I want everyone too to see it and shall invite all friends whom I think might give you a sitting. You may rely now that everything that I can do will be done for you & to show my appreciation of your inestimable goodness to me for you have given me more than all the world to bequest to my little one & Beulah is very happy over it & is very much pleased with it and I can only say I am more than grateful to you = more than I can ever repay you but believe me I shall do all I can in every way – I thought if you would come and spend Sunday with us – or say come Friday & stay Saturday & Sunday – You could meet some people. I am going to telegraph you today so that I can ask some people to meet you but if you are too busy, come when ever you can and I will do all I can for you anyway. Charlie made Mr. Howland come up from the theatre last night to see it & really I am…’

The mention of the theatre at the end suggests that the sitter’s husband may be Charles Henry Smith was born on July 12, 1866 in Germany. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1869; and was naturalized in 1894. He was a writer and actor, known for The General (1926), Battling Butler (1926) and The Silver Lining (1921). He was married to Beatrice Lapla with whom he had four children: Edith (1892), Beatrice (1893), Sidney (1896) and Frances (1903); about five years later he married – after a divorce – Lillian Ashley (a vaudevillian). He died on July 11, 1942 in Hollywood, California, USA.