Soprano Dorothy Kimball was singing the lead in a performance of the operetta Maytime when Lee Greene Richards, then at the height of his fame as a portrait painter, asked her to sit for a painting. Kimball was playing Ottilie, the daughter of a wealthy colonel who is kept, by family and circumstance, from the man she loves. Over the years the lovers’ lives cross repeatedly but happiness always eludes them and their love only finds fulfillment in the lives of their grandchildren. Richards painted Kimball in costume and titled the work “Portrait of a Singer”. He offered it to the singer for $100, but it was 1936 and the painting was a luxury the singer couldn’t then afford.
Kimball met someone else during that run of Maytime — Richard Keddington, who played opposite her as Ottilie’s star-crossed lover. The singers fell in love and their own affair was happier than the characters they played: they married, raised four children and continued their careers in the theatre. Both also sang with the Tabernacle Choir, where Dorothy was often a soloist. Dick was also featured on KSL radio players.
Dorothy Kimball Keddington passed away last year, and going through her papers the family is intrigued by the portrait done of her at such a pivotal time in her life. They assume it is now in a private collection and are hoping the owners will let them take a look at it. If you have any information about the painting you can contact the family at firstname.lastname@example.org.