I have been able to track down more information regarding the two portraits of the Mayo brothers, Charles (left) and William (right), which were removed from the Mayo Memorial Auditorium during its renovation. The artist is Minerva Lyons Eisenberg who was born in Newcastle-on-the-Tyne, England and was married to Martin Eisenberg. At the time the paintings were done they lived in Minneapolis. Mr. Eisenberg either owned or operated Billy & Marty’s Tobacconists in downtown Minneapolis. My early assumption that the artist might be related to the Mayo Clinic benefactor George M. Eisenberg seems to be unfounded.
The two paintings were part of a larger exhibit of forty-seven world leaders the artist put together. The exhibit was shown at the Southdale Center, Edina MN during a Brotherhood Week celebration during the 1970s. Minerva Eisenberg wrote to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to inquire if there was an interest in purchasing the two portraits. The Mayo declined in 1979.
As yet, I have not been able to determine when the portraits came to the University and whether or not the portraits were donated or purchased. There is no record of the paintings in a listing of public art on campus. There is also no other information on the artist. The Getty’s union list of artists and AskArt.com do not reference her.
Hopefully this will not be the final word on the portraits. I am still optimistic that I can find some documentation on their acquisition by the University. I would also like to thank the individuals at Mayo Historical Archives, Weisman Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts who have been so helpful in tracking down what little information there is.