Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The New Book! Mystery of the Linthicum Portrait at Towson

Press Release: The Mystery of the Linthicum Portrait- Have you seen this man anywhere?

Contact- Conrad Bladey, cbladey@verizon.net, 410-789-0930.


Have you seen this man? If so let us know!

This portrait has a mystery! It is a portrait of John Charles Linthicum. It was probably painted about 1900. Artist is unknown.

A few months ago I was inspired by the dedication of a local monument to research the lives of John Charles Linthicum and his wife Helen. This research has produced the book: Travels with Helen and Charlie (a guide to places and things related to John Charles and Helen A. Linthicum) and soon a major academic work on the Linthicums: ­Uncle Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum Maryland Patriots of the Gilded Age. which will soon be published. As an academic researcher, I am dedicated to perfection. While studying the Last Will and Testament of Helen A. Linthicum I came across the following reference:

(words not in italics below are from my guidebook)

"21.I give and bequeath to the State Teachers College, formerly the State Normal School at Towson, Maryland, in which my late husband John Charles Linthicum, was deeply interested the oil painting of my said late husband which is now hanging in my drawing room."

-”Last Will and Testament of Helen A. Linthicum”, No. 8, Case No. 619, File No. 37928, Baltimore City Will J,.H.B. 213-1 Anne Arundel R.G.P. 53-542. -Travels with Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum., Conrad Bladey, 2008

Upon her death, she willed to the school a fine oil portrait of her husband which will be placed in the building named after him."

-Towson State College, Towson, Maryland, Dedication Program for Linthicum Hall and Bufdick Hall, Saturday, November Second, Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Eight at Ten A.M., Burdick Hall. 1968.

- Travels with Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum., Conrad Bladey, 2008

Where was this portrait? I contacted

Nadia Nasr
University Archivist & Digital Collections Librarian
Albert S. Cook Library
Towson University

8000 York Road
Towson, MD 21252

410-704-2398 (o)

410-704-3760 (f)

Nadia was doing a great job helping me with my research. John Charles Linthicum and his wife both were very interested in Towson University. John Charles had attended it when it was the Normal School- he became a teacher. Later he worked on the state commission to build the university, as we now know it. There is a scholarship at Towson still, which was established by the will of Helen A. Linthicum.

I received an e.mail that indicated that more information was discovered. I thanked Nadia who had been most helpful and rushed right over. Tired I reviewed the new folder made a few copies and brought them home. It was only when I got home that I found the reference to the portrait in the program for the dedication of Linthicum Hall on the campus of the University where the picture was to be hung. There was even a small photo of the portrait in the program.

Ok….the question was…..could the portrait be found in the hall? I contacted Nadia who sent students right over to look for it. That was a few weeks ago. Nadia put out the all points bulletin searching for the portrait but she had to report back on 1/9/09 that it has still not been found.

This is an important portrait of John Charles Linthicum as it may well be the earliest one that we know of. The mystery remained. Where is this man? Perhaps someone reading this will know….Check your office walls. Perhaps the storage room….Let me know….410-789-0930. Anyone providing information leading to the painting will receive a free copy of my guidebook- Travels with Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum., Conrad Bladey, 2008

Here is what I know about the portrait from my guidebook:

"Mrs. Linthicum shared her husband's interest in

Towson and contributed to the school a sum for student scholarships which still serves its purpose as the Helen A. Linthicum Scholarship Fund. Upon her death, she willed to the school a fine oil portrait of her husband which will be placed in the building named after him."

-Towson State College, Towson, Maryland, Dedication Program for Linthicum Hall and Bufdick Hall, Saturday, November Second, Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Eight at Ten A.M., Burdick Hall. 1968.

- Travels with Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum., Conrad Bladey, 2008

Be sure not to confuse the portrait in question with two others that I have discovered:

I have located two other portraits of John Charles Linthicum. The first given by Mrs. Helen Linthicum to the House Foreign Affairs committee following the death of her husband. I have recorded it in my guidebook as follows:

Portrait House Foreign Affairs Committee Room Washington, D.C.

The portrait hangs in room 2200 in the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington. D.C. 20515.

Call the House Foreign Affairs Committee to arrange to visit the portrait. 202-225-5021.

Ritchie presents Linthicum Canvas

Portrait of Marylander Is Accepted by Sol Bloom for Foreign Affairs Group. Painted by T. C. Corner, Governor Pays Tribute to Late

Congressman For Work As Chairman of Committee., (Washington Bureau of the Sun) Washington, Jan. 22- High tribute was paid to the memory and services of the late Representative J. Charles Linthicum by Governor Ritchie in presenting a portrait of the Marylander to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House. Mr.. Linthicum at the time of his death was chairman of the committee.

"I deem it a privilege of doing honor to a very warm friend. We at home are appreciative of his service, his integrity and blameless life. We were hopeful when he became chairman of this committee that he would have an opportunity to do further constructive work."

Painted by Baltimorean

The portrait which was executed by Thomas C. Corner, of Baltimore was accepted by Representative Sol Bloom (Dem. N.Y.) ranking member of the committee, in the absence of Representative Sam D. McReynolds of Tennessee, who was unable to be present.

"In accepting this portrait it does not require a picture to remind us of the great work Mr. Linthicum has done in this committee." said Mr. Bloom. "It was his desire and wish that the United States be represented in foreign countries in a fitting manner and his work as a member of the committee and as a member of the Foreign Building Commission in providing suitable

buildings in foreign lands will remain a monument to his efforts."

Bishop Gives Invocation

Bishop James E. Freeman of St. Albans; Protestant Episcopal Cathedral, pronounced the invocation after the presentation.

A number of officials of the State Department and representatives of foreign countries attended the ceremonies, including Rudolph Leitner counselor of the German Embassy and Dr. Alfred Sze, Minister form the Chinese Republic.

Following the ceremony a reception was held in the Speakers' lobby of the House where more than a hundred Democratic and Republican members left the floor to meet Governor Ritchie.

After the reception Governor Ritchie was the guest of honor at a luncheon given by the Maryland delegation in the Speakers' dining room

.-The Baltimore Sun., Jan. 24.1933.

-Travels with Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum., Conrad Bladey, 2008.

This is clearly a different portrait done later in life.

News of a second portrait came via a newspaper article. I reported it in my guidebook as follows:


Another portrait of John Charles Linthicum was located and purchased by the Linthicum Family. It is currently on display in the ground floor of Auburn House on the campus of Towson State University. Auburn House is located on the west side of the campus near the stadium off of Auburn Drive.

"Linthicum portrait finds "resting place" at Towson State University. A portrait of former Re. J. Charles Linthicum-a major backer of making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem-will find a permanent home tomorrow when it's donated to Towson State University. Just three years after the Linthicum family saved the portrait from the auction block, it will be donated for display in the alumni house. "We're all getting old," said Sweetser Linthicum Jr., 86 (?) as, the congressman's nephew, "Next thing you know you're floating around, and someone will be selling it at an estate sale or it will be sitting in an auction house. I want to get things organized and have it at its final resting place."…

…By chance, the family learned through a friend that the portrait by French artist Theo Dube was going to be auctioned off by Harris Auctions of Baltimore City. “They didn't tell us a thing, it had a beautiful frame on it but it was in bad shape," he said. A whole family crew went up for the auction, including Sweetser Linthicum and in law Paul Wildman. Mr.Wildman, an artist, headed the bidding and bought the portrait. Later he retouched it and made a special frame for the picture to replace the ornate, but broken original one. The painting was placed above the deep red couch on the red brocade wall in Sweetser Linthicum's home on Sweetser Road in Linthicum. But tomorrow, Dr. Hoke L. Smith president of Towson State University is hosting a special reception honoring the Linthicum family. Mr. Linthicum and his brother Seth Linthicum of Tucson, Arizona, chose Towson State for the portrait's final resting place because of the congressman's special attachment to the university. It will hang in the Alumni House.

Not only did the congressman graduate from the university- when it was known as the State Normal School- but he was instrumental to relocating the school to Towson. During his long political career, J. Charles Linthicum helped obtain state approval for the construction at the new campus. "Uncle Charley" and his wife Helen gave a lot of money to the University for Scholarships. Mr. Linthicum said. The university named a building after them in 1968. After teaching in Anne Arundel County for several years, J. Charles Linthicum began his political career in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1903.

- The Capital, Annapolis, Maryland , Wednesday, April 07, 1993, Page 16,

-Travels with Charlie and Mrs. Helen Linthicum., Conrad Bladey, 2008

This portrait is also not the same. It was done earlier in life than the last one but not as early as the one mentioned in the will.

I am most interested in any information, photos, or other images of John Charles Linthicum and his wife Helen.

I can be reached at



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