National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
Mather Brown (painter)
American, 1761 - 1831
William Vans Murray, 1787
oil on canvas
overall: 76.2 x 63.7 cm (30 x 25 1/16 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
On View
From the Tour: American Portraits of the Late 1700s and Early 1800s
Object 1 of 8


The sitter's widow, Charlotte Hughins Murray, London;[1] gift to Richard Rush [1780-1859], Philadelphia;[2] bequeathed to his son, Benjamin Rush [1811-1877], Philadelphia.[3] (Rose M. de Forest [Mrs. Augustus de Forest], New York); purchased 5 November 1921 by Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York;[4] his estate; sold as part of the Clarke collection 29 January 1936, through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1940 to NGA.

[1] The portrait is not mentioned in Murray's will dated 9 September 1802 (Maryland State Archives; copy, NGA curatorial file). His wife was his primary heir, receiving land in Cambridge, Maryland, and all personal property not specifically mentioned in the will.

[2] A handwritten note once attached to the reverse of the painting documents this gift (NGA curatorial file; the upper left corner of the note is missing): "... my late Husband William Vans/ ... qre belongs to Richard Rush Esqr of/ ... near Philadelphia in Pensylvania, U.S. of/ ... North America; having been presented to him by me,/ Charlotte Murray./ October 15th/ 1836./ George Street,/ Portman Square/ London." Richard Rush's wife Catherine Murray was William Vans Murray's cousin; on Rush see Dictionary of American Biography 8: 231-234.

[3] Richard Rush's will dated December 1854 (copy, NGA Curatorial file), states: "My household furniture, pictures and other things not already bequeathed, will remain in the house for the use of the daughters with me when I die. The family paintings will belong to Ben, but not be removed while the Sydenham house stands as a homestead." A note by Benjamin Rush, once attached to the reverse of the painting (NGA curatorial file), states in part: "Came to me under the Will of my Father, 1860." (The handwriting was verified by R. N. Williams, Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; see his letter of 25 May 1949, NGA curatorial file.) For Rush's dates see F. W. Leach, "Rush Family of Pennsylvania," in Jason Adamson, Rush Genealogy (Turlock, Ca., 1965), 11, and his obituary in The New York Times 6 July 1877, 4.

[4] The name of the seller and the date of purchase are according to 1928 Clarke exhibition catalogue annotated with information from files of M. Knoedler & Co., NY (copy in NGA curatorial records and in NGA library).

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Artist Information
Exhibition History

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