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Accession Number 1900.001
Catalog Number 1900.001.034
Object Name Painting
Title Portrait of Richard M. Bishop
Description Portrait of Ohio's 34th governor, Richard M. Bishop (1878-1880). He is seated in a wooden chair with a bookcase behind him; the title of one book is legible, "Laws of Ohio." He wears a dark coat with a white shirt. He has thick gray hair and a long gray beard. He holds a rolled piece of paper in his proper right hand.
Date 1880
Artist Matthews, William T., 1821-1905
Notes Richard Moore Bishop was born in Fleming County, Kentucky, in 1812. His parents had moved to Kentucky from Virginia in 1800. Both Bishop and his family had strong religious beliefs and became Campbellites. Bishop had limited educational opportunities as he grew up, and he began working in a store as a clerk when he was seventeen. By the time he was twenty-one, he had become a partner in the store. Beginning in 1838, Bishop formed a partnership with his brother that lasted for a number of years, although it experienced some financial difficulties. The two men shipped pork down the Mississippi River to the South.

Bishop moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1848, and established a wholesale grocery business known as Bishop, Wells and Company. His business efforts were very successful, and he eventually opened a partnership with his three sons named R.M. Bishop and Company. This business sold more than five million dollars in merchandise each year. In addition to his wholesale business, Bishop served on the board of directors of the First National Bank of Cincinnati. He also was involved in higher education, serving on the boards of Bethany College of Virginia, the University of Kentucky, and McMicken University (later the University of Cincinnati).

Bishop first entered politics in 1857, when he was elected to the Cincinnati city council. Two years later, he became mayor of Cincinnati, a position that he held until 1861. Bishop was very popular as mayor, and both the Democratic Party and Republican Party asked him to run for reelection. He decided instead to retire from politics and returned to his business interests.

Bishop was a well-respected member of the Democratic Party in Cincinnati. He reluctantly returned to politics in 1873 as a delegate to the Ohio Constitutional Convention. His contributions to the convention led the Democratic Party to select him as its candidate for governor in 1877. Bishop was successful in defeating Republican Judge William H. West.

Bishop's term as governor was relatively uneventful. The state legislature passed the Bland-Allison Act, which allowed for the coinage of silver, as well as passing laws that punished election bribery and blackmail. Democrats were not entirely satisfied with Bishop's administration though, because they believed that his sons had too much influence on political appointments that were made during his terms. As a result, the party chose Thomas Ewing, Jr., instead of Bishop, as its candidate in the 1879 elections. Bishop returned to his home and business interests in Cincinnati once his term was over.

Bishop died in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 2, 1893.
People Bishop, Richard M., 1812-1893
Matthews, William T., 1821-1905
Signed Name Not signed
Image size 49" x 36"
Frame size 54-1/2" x 42"
Frame desc Twentieth century molded gilt frame with carved beaded liner
Material Oil Paint/Canvas/Wood
Provenance In 1867, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution relative to the governors of Ohio. The legislators resolved that "the secretary of state, on the first Monday of January next, whether the portraits of the governors of Ohio, state and territorial, can be procured, and if so, whether original portraits or copies, and the probable expense of procuring such portraits for the governor's office."

William T. Mathews painted this portrait of ex-Governor Richard Bishop in 1880. A reporter for an Ohio newspaper noted in January 1880, "In company with Mrs. Gov. Bishop, I stepped into the state house gallery to see the Governor's portrait which is receiving the finishing touches. Mr. Mathews, the artist, is late of New York city, where he has for 36 years been making a reputation. His portrait of Governor Bishop is chef d'eauvre. It struck me as the most effective of this congregation of Ohio''s governors. . . "

In the State of Ohio General and Local Acts Passed by the 74th General Assembly for 1898 there is a notation: "Retouching of Gov. Bishop $50".

The painting is heavily restored and overpainted.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board took over the care of the Statehouse and its collections in 1988.
Search Terms Ohio Governor
Ohio Governor's Portraits
Subjects Governors
Portrait paintings
Collection Statehouse Artwork Collection/Governors' Portraits