The Portrait


“Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting” by Alexandre Cabanel

This stunning portrait of Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting (1855-1949) was painted by society portrait artist Alexandre Cabanel in 1887. The portrait belongs to the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

Olivia was the daughter of Bronson Murray of Murray Hill, New York. In April of 1877, she married William Baynard Cutting—attorney, railroad builder, ferry operator, sugar beet refiner, developer of the south Brooklyn waterfront called Red Hook, and philanthropist. They had five children, one of whom was ambassador to the Court of St. James, one a U.S. senator, and one married the son of William James.

My editor at Kensington, John Scognamiglio, saw this painting in an exhibit on the Gilded Age at the Museum of the City of New York and suggested that it might provide inspiration to Kensington’s art department for a new cover for Decorum. I agreed wholeheartedly. Then much to my surprise and delight, the art department acquired the rights from the museum to use the original portrait of Mrs. Cutting for Decorum’s cover. Many thanks to John, the Kensington art department, and the Museum of the City of New York.