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Rejection letter written by Kentucky's Governor Bramlette to New York artist Phineas Staunton.
May 25, 1866
(Original courtesy of the Le Roy Historical Society)

Commonwealth of Kentucky,
Executive Department
Frankfort, May 25, 1866

Mr. P. Staunton—

Dear Sir:

The committee
composed of the old friends
and personal acquaintances
of Mr. Clay, who were
appointed by me pursuant
to the Resolution of the General
Assembly to select the portrait
to be brought by the State have
by our majority decided the
question against your picture
and in favor of that painted
by Mr. Frye. This decision I
regard as binding upon me and
upon the Legislative Committee.

I cannot however permit
this occasion to pass without

expressing my high appreciation
of your historical painting
of Mr. Clay.

Mr. James [sic] M. Clay the
son of Mr. Clay was moved
to tears upon the sight of
your lifelike representation
of his father, and as one
of the Committee—made
the following statement of
his opinion of the merits of
the painting (viz)

"Mr. Staunton, in my opinion
gives expression almost if not
quite impossible to be excelled
on canvas. No comparison
between the two paintings as
to merit and resemblance."

(signed) "John M. Clay"

With this high commendation
of your work, defeat itself is
a victory in any contest of

Tho E Bramlette