Virginia Dwyer Gorman Gift

Picture of Rail Line Opening
Virginia Dwyer (Gorman), Actress,
Another World

The following story was compiled from records in RSW's folder held in the archive of the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts G.W.V. Smith Collection

In October of 1991, retired soap actress, Virginia Dwyer Gorman sought to donate the Woodward painting, Contentment to the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts. She shipped the painting to the museum on Oct. 23rd and two days later it was appaised [to the right] by former Curator and Acting Director of the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, Lewis Shepard. Lewis valued the painting at $6,000.00.


On December 2, 1991, Ms. Gorman received a letter accepting her gift by the Acquisitions Committee. Written by Museum Director, Hollister Struges, Stuges thanked Ms. Gorman for her gift and invited her to the upcoming exhibition of Recent Acquisitions 1986-1991, to be held 3 days later by which her gift, Contentment will be included.


On December 6, 1991, Ms. Gorman received and official "Receipt of Gift" document and on December 11th Ms. Gorman wrote a letter in response, informing the museum of a misunderstanding. She explains that while she has been handling the communications and business end of the giving of the gift, the gift is being given jointly be herself and her sister Jenny Lou Brink of Westport, CT. Ms. Gorman ask that Jenny be included on the official receipts and tax forms to following. Jenny's name does appear on both the official "Gift of Property/Accession" sent in May of 1992 and the museum's inventory catalog sheet.


The painting itself is no longer the property of the museum. The inventory sheet on record was dated April 30, 2010 so from October 1991 to at least April 2010, Contentment was in the possession of the museum. There was no record of its sale found in the folder so we do not know what led to its sale or how the sale was carried out. What we do know is the painting is privately owned at this time. Contentment has an interesting provenance. It was sent to RSW friend, Hollywood Set & Interior Designer, Harold Grieve, who sold it to Hollywood Producer Bernard A. Hyman, famous for the original Tarzan movies as well as his work with Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo. How Ms. Gorman and her sister came by it thereafter, we do not know.

For more on Virginia Dwyer Gorman, the records and documents of the Springfield Museum, this painting and/or it's original owner Bernard Hyman and much more... use the links provided below:

Appraisal Letter
The museum copy of
Lewis Shepard's appraisal letter
Acceptence Letter
Museum Acceptance Letter