In 1930 Robert Strong Woodward was
commissioned by Mr. Francis P. Garvan to paint a series of old New England
churches which he intended to donate to the Yale Museum of Fine arts. RSW chose as his first painting to be of the rare old church in Marlboro, VT
which was built in revolutionary times. This was a large 40 x 50 painting
which he named Enduring New England which was intended to
hang in the museum.
From his painting diary: "Painted around 1930 or 31.
Painted at Marlboro, VT of the rare old church there, built in
revolutionary times. Made this 40 x 50 at the spot in the car. Exhibited
very generally about the country. One of the very few of the church
canvases gotten down to Macbeth's in time for Mr. Francis P. Garvan to see
before his sudden and untimely death. He bought it and presented it to the
Yale Museum in New Haven, CT where it hangs in their permanent collection---
the only one of many of mine which were to hang there--- had not Mr. Garvan
died. A year after I painted this, the old church burned and my painting
of it seen at the Grand Central Art Galleries, was used partly as pattern to
build a new but smaller replica in Marlboro."
Enduring New England
on the back of a sepia print:
"Learning that you are connected in some way with Brattleboro, I send
this photograph of my painting Enduring New England which was made in Marlboro, Vermont,
a place you unquestionably know in your journeys to and from Halifax. I
made the painting of the rare old church 4 or 5 summers ago, the season
before it was burnt to the ground. This canvas hung at the Grand Central Art
Galleries, #15 Vanderbilt Avenue, N. Y. at the time the church was burned.
Strangely, the man who had been chosen to design the new church in
duplicate, saw the painting there, was very much interested and used my
painting partially as model for the new structure. It occurs to me, that
if in remodeling your Halifax house, you are possibly hoping to duplicate
the old red ell, my painting might be of slight assistance to you. I
imagine that sills and beams are quite too far gone to save as they are.
Of course the ell still stands and of course my painting was made in its
state of graceful dilapidation, so this canvas may not be of any practical
use to you at all. But if it should happen that it might be of use to your
architect, and I still have it in my possession at the time, you are very
welcome to use it. I would feel honored if for any way I could contribute
to the remodeling or restitution of the dear old Halifax house " Signed:
Robert Strong Woodward
(The above was written on the back of a sepia print of a
photograph of this painting and then subsequently scratched out by RSW with
a heavy pencil.)
The Marlboro Meeting House as it appears today after being rebuilt
After painting the large 40 x 50 painting
of Enduring New England, probably in 1930 or
1931, RSW made a smaller 27 x 30 almost identical painting in the studio
from the larger one, but with several "finishing-off" trips to the site
which he named Marlboro Church
.From his diary notes:
1930-1931. A smaller canvas like
Enduring New England painted from
Marlboro church and the big canvas, and bought by Bradley Polytechnic
Institute, Peoria, Illinois, and hung in the school."
this, in 1940 RSW made a third painting in the studio, a 20 x 40 version,
of this subject which was a composite of the Marlboro Church in the center,
the tree overhang in the painting of the Mary Lyon Church on the left, and
the tree overhang of the Halifax House panting on the right. He titled this
painting simply New England.