The now and then postings of the discoveries and contributions of the Miller and Bechtold families .

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mary Ellen McCaffrey's Portrait of Cole Porter in Indiana Statehouse

Mary Ellen McCaffrey, Sister to Toney McCaffrey

(Parents: Florence McCaffrey and Kate Porter Cole)

Her Portrait:


Daniels adds Cole Porter to Hoosier Heritage Gallery

INDIANAPOLIS (December 3, 2010) - Governor Mitch Daniels has added a portrait of Peru native and legendary songwriter Cole Porter, found in the attic of his boyhood home, to the Hoosier Heritage Gallery that adorns the south wall of the Governor's Office.

"It occurred to me a few years ago that there were a number of portraits of politicians in this office, but none honoring people who distinguished themselves in an important part of life and an important part of society. Today, we are honoring our greatest composer,"
Daniels said in describing his idea for the gallery wall.

Polly Dobbs, Porter's fourth cousin, attended today's ceremony and provided additional background on the history of the painting. "We are very honored and we appreciate the recognition the governor has given Cole Porter," said Dobbs.

Porter, born in 1891, attended Yale and wrote football fight songs, including "Bull Dog," that are still popular today. In the late 1920s, he became a prominent songwriter in New York, having penned some of the greatest songs of stage and screen. "Night and Day," "You're the Top," "Begin the Beguine," "Don't Fence Me In" and "Love for Sale" are a few of his more famous compositions. In the 1930s he wrote the scores to a number of successful Broadway productions including "Anything Goes," "The Gay Divorce," "Kiss Me Kate," and "Can Can." The longevity and popularity of Cole Porter's music is a testament to this Hoosier's talent. More than 76 years after originally premiering, a revival of Anything Goes will open on Broadway April 7, 2011. Porter passed away in 1964.

This portrait of Porter was discovered in the early 1990s in the attic of his boyhood home in Peru. It was on display for a short time in a café in Richmond owned by a member of the Porter family but otherwise has never been exhibited publicly.  Though it is believed Porter sat for other portraits, this is the only adult painting known to his family. The artist, M.E. McCaffrey, is thought to be Mary Ellen McCaffrey, a second cousin to Cole Porter.  Although the portrait is not dated, it is believed to date to the early 1950s. The portrait is on loan to the Hoosier Heritage Gallery from the Cole Porter family. The rendering of Porter replaces that of T.C. Steele.

A photo of the portrait can be found at this address:

In January 2006, Governor Daniels designated the south wall of the Governor's Office as a place for portraits of historically important Hoosiers-a change in the longstanding tradition of hanging portraits solely of former governors.  The portraits, which are loaned to the state, are part of a rotating exhibit that is updated periodically.  In addition to Porter, portraits of Mother Theodore Guerin, Colonel Eli Lilly and Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom are currently on display.

Information about portraits previously featured in the Hoosier Heritage Gallery can be found at this address:

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