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Francis P. Garvan

Francis Garvan Portrait
Francis Garvan (1875 -1937) portrait
Lawyer, Philanthropist, and along with his wife,
Mabel Brady, collectors of Early American furni-
ture, decorative art, crafts, and silverware.

INTRODUCTION: The Impetus of the Relationship

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.

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.


Garvan Family Portrait
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 complet-
ed fourteen portraits, including those of President and
Mrs. Warren G.Harding. The Garvans were also among de
Laszlo clients that year, and the artist painted an enorm-
ous family portrait of Mrs. Garvan and her four children.
From left to right: Mabel Brady standing aside her brother,
Francis Patrick, Mrs. Garvan, Anthony Nicholas Brady at
her lap, and then Flora Brady, along with the portrait of
the family patriarch at the top of the page.

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 Wikipedia listing.

Francis and Mabel were collectors of fine, decorative arts and books... The Garvan's collected early American, decorative arts, furniture and silver. They donated the majority of their 10,000 assembled art objects and artifacts to Yale University. It is considered one of the most complete collections of early American arts and crafts.


The Frick
Villanova's Office of the President
The Catholic News Archives
The New York Times Obituary

The Garvan Mausoleum
The Garvan Mausoleum
Francis P. Garvan died November 7, 1937, and is buried
with his wife in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, NY.

For a series of studies of historic churches and homes by Woodward to be included would have been quite an impressive feather in his cap. It is already something that Enduring New England is already part of the collection but it is so unfortunate this honor for Woodward did not pan out. Still, there is more to consider in regard to this commission which is discussed further in a "Painting Stories" essay, "The Francis & Mabel Garvin Comission"

orignal copy by: MLP (2011)
page updated by: BCM (2022)

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