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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Governor Ernest Whitworth Marland

by Leonard D. McMurry

Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Legislature
Dedicated 1982
Second Floor: Hall of Governors

Governor Ernest Whitworth Marland by Leonard D. McMurry

The Artwork

Ernest Whitworth Marland was born May 8, 1874 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Park Institute of that city and received his LL.B. from the University of Michigan in 1893. He began his law practice in Pittsburgh but engaged in the oil production business after moving to Oklahoma. He was president of the Marland Oil Company until its consolidation. He was a member of the 73rd United States Congress from 1933 to 1935. Marland was Governor of Oklahoma from January 15, 1935 to January 9, 1939. Before Marland left office, nearly 90,000 Oklahomans were working on 1,300 WPA projects. Marland provided leadership in the development of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Interstate Oil Compact. He died October 3, 1941.

The Artist

Known as Oklahoma's own "Michelangelo," Leonard McMurry was born to a family of prominent cotton farmers in the Texas panhandle. McMurry moved to Oklahoma in 1955 and then lived in Stilwell and Oklahoma City. Under the teachings of sculptors Carl Mose and Ivan Mestrovic, McMurry perfected his craft. His magnificent sculptures of Oklahoma icons can be seen across the state including the '89er statue on Couch Drive in Oklahoma City and the Praying Hands that grace the lawns of Oral Roberts University.

In accordance with Oklahoma's Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1982, McMurry was commissioned to sculpt busts of 21 past Oklahoma Governors. The Hall of Governors exudes Oklahoman's pride in her past legislative guardians. Regarding his works, McMurry states, "Each piece must have a soul, a living quality that's far more important than just physical representation. A piece has to have guts: the strength, power, and dignity, that makes it a monument." McMurry has accomplished that very feat within the grandiose Hall of Governors in which visitors may come face to face with naturalistic representation of Oklahoma leaders.