Francis Garvan (1875 - 1937), Lawyer, friend, philanthropist
The year was 1930. Robert Strong Woodward had moved back to Buckland following a gunshot accident and spent several years working out of his first studio, Redgate. This studio burned to the ground in 1922 and he moved to his second studio, the Hiram Woodward studio, a mile or so up the road. He was just becoming nationally well known, having won the prestigious Hallgarten Prize in 1919. It was in 1930 that he was driven in his Nash touring car by Fabian Stone, his long time personal attendant and hired man, to the town of Marlboro, VT to paint the famous old church there which was built in the 1700s.
Sitting in the rear seat, RSW painted the church pictured below
Enduring New England
"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 death. He bought it and presented it to the Yale Museum of Fine Arts in New Haven, Conn., 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 (by an architect) and was used partly as pattern to build a new but smaller replica in Marlboro."
Enduring New England was the title given to the painting and it was sent down to the Macbeth Gallery in New York City to be exhibited and sold. It was here that the well known lawyer, Francis P. Garvan, saw the painting and contacted Mr. Woodward to purchase it.
At this time, he arranged with RSW to paint a series of old churches and old New England houses, which he intended to donate to Yale University of Fine Arts, along with a variety of other famous works of art, which were to eventually become a collection in memory of his wife known as "The Mabel B. Garvan Collection." (It is one of the most comprehensive collections of early American Arts and Crafts in the nation.)
Unfortunately, Mr. Garvan died unexpectedly after purchasing this painting, so Mr. Woodward was unable to fulfill the Garvan request. Then one year after the painting sold and was given to Yale, the historic old church burned to the ground. The architect used the Woodward painting as a model to rebuild the church. Although it was a great disappointment to RSW to not continue the request of Mr. Garvan, he subsequently began to paint a number of churches and old New England houses anyway. See images later in this essay.
Francis P. Garvan was born on June 13, 1875, in East Hartford, CT, ten years before Robert Strong Woodward. He graduated from Yale University in 1897 and from New York Law School in 1899. He had a distinguished career as a lawyer, being Assistant District Attorney of New York City, Alien Property Custodian (who seized and managed enemy properties in the U. S. during World War I, and other high positions in the government, including U. S. Assistant General Attorney. For details of his many other positions in the legal, the industrial and the government fields, please check HERE for a Wickipedia listing.
Below are images of a number of the churches and one homestead, which were oil paintings RSW intended for the Garvan collection to be donated to Yale University:
East Poultney Church
The Potter Homestead
Village Church In Winter
"Painted 1937. One of the many paintings I made this season of 1937 through Macbeth for a Mr. Garvan who wished to present a collection of paintings to Yale University showing the growth of architecture (largely churches but also of fine dwellings) in America. I made many of this series but Mr. Garvan suddenly died before he could honor his contract with me, much to my loss. Since I could now sell them privately the above canvas was bought by the owner of the house itself, Mrs. Arthur D. Potter, of 486 Main Street, Greenfield, Mass., and hangs in her beautiful drawing room."
Francis P. Garvan died November 7, 1937, and is buried with his wife in the
Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, NY.
The Francis Garvan Family portrait
The above portrait is by the Hungarian artist Alexius de Laszlo trained
in Budapest, Munich, and at the Academie Julian in Paris. In 1907 he
settled in England and quickly established a reputation as a painter of
kings, emperors, and society figures. In the spring of 1921, de Laszlo
paid a three-month visit to the United States, where he completed
fourteen portraits, including those of President and Mrs. Warren G.
Harding. The Garvans were also among de Laszlo's clients that year,
and the artist painted an enormous family portrait of Mrs. Garvan and
her four children, along with the portrait of the family patriarch at the top.
The mausoleum of Francis P. Garvan in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY