Lauren Ford, Catholic Painter

There’s a lot of information about Lauren Ford given on this exhibition program.

Lauren Ford was the daughter of Simeon Ford and Julia Ellsworth Ford, nee Shaw. Simeon was proprietor, with his brother-in-law Samuel Shaw, of the fashionable Grand Union Hotel in New York City and a published after-dinner speaker. Julia was an author of children’s books and doyenne of a salon that included the Lebanese mystic Kahlil Gibran, celebrated Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats, and influential American dancer Isadora Duncan. While young Lauren’s interests relegated her to the shadows of Julia’s social set, the artistically charged environment of Julia’s salon and Julia’s guidance and encouragement nourished Lauren’s artistic talents.

Consequently, Lauren was sent to France at the age of nine to study painting with her uncle, Lawrence Shaw, her namesake.

Uncle Lawrence’s tutelage, the medieval art of France, and the magic of the liturgy and Gregorian chant of the monks of Solesmes, began to shape young Lauren’s artistic and spiritual development. She would eventually become a Catholic, taking simple vows as a Benedictine Oblate, and an aesthetic and spiritual force for good through her art and philanthropy.

Meanwhile, Lauren studied at the Art Students League in New York City. She continued to travel throughout France and to study its medieval traditions along with study in Paris, where she was exposed to the academic tradition of the nineteenth century as well as to the avant-garde. Her early art, which explored the world of children, grew to focus on the world of the Christ Child and the Holy Family.

Its mise-en-scene was a farm amidst the rolling hills around Bethlehem, Connecticut, that Lauren Ford called Sheepfold, a biblical reference to the special regard God has for his children, which was her home and studio for the last thirty years of her life. And its models were her neighbors, mostly the farmers, who worked the fields around Sheepfold. In the 1940s, during the tumultuous years of World War II, those paintings were featured in Life Magazine, and her Christmas scenes were popularized in Christmas cards produced by the American Artists Group.

She is also remembered for her support for the Benedictine sisters of the fledgeling Abbey of Regina Laudis. There’s a picture of her on the “Foundation History” page.

Here’s her parents’ house.

Here’s a great story about Lauren Ford and her world. She raised canaries and encouraged Tomie de Paola, apparently….

Dorothy Day said, “Lauren Ford says that women ought always to wear capacious aprons of strong denim for harvesting, and I suppose they would do as well for fish as for apples.”

Lauren Ford works on the Web:
“A Country Doctor”
“La Grippe (Home Fires)”
“The Guardian Angel”

Lauren Ford image gallery (2 pictures)
Many Ford illustrations on UD’s Christmas poetry page.

Books by Lauren Ford:
Our Lady’s Book (stories of Marian apparitions)
Lauren Ford’s Christmas Book

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53 Comments

Filed under Church, fandom

53 responses to “Lauren Ford, Catholic Painter

  1. sherri

    I was wondering if anyone had a photograph of Lauren Ford her self?

  2. Mary

    I have an original signed painting of The Guardian Angel by Lauren Ford but cannot find any information online. I would like to know what it could be worth particularly.

  3. Haven’t got a clue. I don’t even know where you should start looking (other than your local library). Sounds great, though!

    Probably if you found the right buyer/s, it could fetch a good price. Lauren Ford seems to have a lot of fans out there, even if we don’t see many references to her on the Web.

  4. Hobey

    I have photos of Lauren Ford-
    hobey1@aol.com
    She is relative.

  5. I HAVE A SMALL BOOK DATED 1934 – THE LITTLE BOOK ABOUT GOD. THE PRINTING WAS DONE BY DOUBLE DAY IN NEW YORK. IT SAYS THAT IT IS LITHOGRAPHED PRINT. ALL IS DONE IN HAND SCRIPT AND COLOR PICTURES – CAN YOU GIVE ME ANY INFORMATION – CAN NOT FIND A BOOK TITLED IN LAUREN FORD’S BOOK LIST THANKYOU

  6. Bonnie Sheridan

    Noone has mentioned the movie, “Come to the Stable” starring Loretta Young , based on Lauren’s life. Life magazine gave her a cover and a long article when the film was released by Twentieth Century Fox about 1938.

    • Peter

      …I could be wrong, but I believe the movie, “Come to the Stable” was about how the French Nuns set up the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT…and how Robert Leather gave them a building and property to get established…

      My father worked for Mr Leather for 44 years…

      We live across the road, Crane Hollow Road, from Sheepfold, Ms Ford’s estate.

      Thank you,

      Peter

      • Lynn

        My uncle was Rober Leather. My mother and Aunt spent summers there.

      • Peter A Kacerguis

        Hello Lynn,

        Do you have any more particulars? My Aunt, Eva (Teve) March was the leather’s housekeep…I’d love to hear from you,

        Petert

  7. They made a MOVIE about her and the Benedictines??? Well, I’ll be croggled!

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041257/

    http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=71296

    Hmm. Apparently the Lauren Ford character, “Amelia Potts”, is played by Elsa Lanchester.

  8. paul

    I have a print titled “Milton Pond” dated 1922. Does anyone know if it was used in a book? I may be interested in selling it. Any clue where to start?

    • Bob

      I believe I have the same print with an original signature as presented to my aunt in 1963. Milton Pond would be in Rye, NY, and Lauren had indicated knowing some of the Rye children depicted as skaters in the painting. Although the title of the print is not stated on my copy, my aunt recalled it to be “Remembrances of Things Past”.

  9. PETER

    I lived across the road from Sheepfold on Crane Hollow Road. As a young boy I, along with my older brother, were Ms Ford’s Shepherds…we tended to her flock of sheep.

    I have several of her original drawings as well as some personalized ones she gave me.

    She was truly a wonderful woman.

    God Bless,

    Peter

    • Opps. I didnt read your post before I responded to you in another. How wonderful you have some memories of her. Do you ever display your drawings at the historical society? Gia

      • Peter

        Hi Gia,
        I’m sorry that I haven’t kept the conversation going…I had some personal issues to sort out…no…I have not put any of my Granny pieces up at the Society…I haven’t lived in Bethlehem since 1966…although I still get back 3-4 times a year to visit my Mom and brother…plus a bunch of family…I joined the Army out of College and have moved 25 times since then…as I am now unpacking from the most recent move I’ll try to locate more of my “treasures”, scan them and send along for your review…

  10. PETER

    I grew up across the road from Ms Ford. As a young boy, I along with my brother, tended her flock of sheep.

    I have several of her original works.

    She ws truly a wonderful woman…

    God Bless,

    Peter

  11. Dear Mr Peter. I am going to visit the museum today to see her paintings. I am very interested in Lauren and her life. I have just been researching her for a short time although I have owned a print of her guardian angel since 1973. That is just amazing that you knew her and played in her yard in Bethlehem. I have lived in conn all my life and cant belive I am just now discovering her. Tell me some more stories about her and sheepfold if you can. Gia

    • Peter

      Hello Gia,

      Where in CT do you live? What museum?

      We called Ms Ford, “Granny”…

      You say, “Played in her yard”…we WORKED for her… :-)

      My brother and I literally tended her flock of about 40 sheep for several years back in the 1950′s…we would bring them in the late afternoon to bed them down w/grain and water after they grazed all day…this would be during the summer months…during colder weather they would stay in the manger area…their thick coats of wool kept them warm…we were given wool blankets from the wool that was shorn from them in the spring by Granny…I still have mine…in the spring when the Ewes gave birth we would be there…our uncle would do most of this work…but we would take the lambs and put them in a separate “nursery area” and plug in the hanging red “heat” lamp to keep keep them warm
      Obviously at the time we knew she was really nice to us…it wasn’t until later that we knew the full extent of her life and her many accomplishments…
      I will be happy to keep the conversation going…
      God Bless,

      Peter

      • Hi Peter, Museum … I was wrong it was the historical society that I went to visit yesterday and what a wonderful evening it was. I met Carol and she was so gracious to show me all they had there. Wow that must have been nice to work a farm and see all the animals like that. I have alot of pets myself and I think that is another reason why I like Laurens paintings,They always have animals scatterd here and there. They lend a great feel to her paintings. Do you still live in the same home across from the infamous Sheepfold? I live in a very small town in conn too ,Marion. Along with my chickens and other pets.Did Granny paint you in anything or anything for you? I have been thinking all day about the images I was able to see last night. loved it. Gia

      • Peter

        Hello Gia,

        Please respond to me at pack@thecoolbreeze.com

        Thank you,

        Peter

      • Eric

        Hi Peter
        I as a young boy also have fond memories of Sheepfold. My mother and I would have the opportunity to visit her “Granny” from time to time, often spending several nites on the property. I would sleep overlooking the sheep in the renovated loft bunks that were used by the nuns. Granny would always get up early, I knew this because in the mornings I would hear all her pet birds cherping ( greating her ) from the floor below my loft. Their was a trap door in the floor that I could open and their would be Granny painting with all the birds around her, she would great me and tell me to get down stairs for breakfast.

        Eric

  12. Pingback: Interesting Discussion on an Old Post « Aliens in This World

  13. Ashley

    Hi, I was cleaning out my basement and I found a different scene from Bethlehem, CT we think, however there are sheep in the right hand corner and some people, but the barn is in the left hand side with an angle above the barn. How would I find out what the original piece would be called??

  14. Denny

    Hi I have an original signed print of the Guardian Angel by Lauren Ford. It is signed at the bottom of the tree trunk at bottom left. Does anyone know it’s value? Thanks Denny

  15. Denny

    Hi Peter, I purchased it at a local resale shop here in the Quad Cities about 2 weeks ago.

    Thanks for your response
    Denny

  16. Karen Hartman

    I have a copy of “the ageless story” with its antiphons pictured by Lauren Ford – copyright 1939 pub Nov. 1939 2nd print Nov 1939 – by Dodd, Mead & Company, New York – anyone heard of it????

  17. Margaret Holter

    I found a copy at a thrift store and bought it for $1.80. What a steal. My sisters and I had this when we were children. I tried to find a copy of this print for my envious sister and could not find it for under $30. That is without a frame. Most of these prints are sold out. Congrats on finding an original signed copy.

  18. Peter Kacerguis

    Pictures of Ms Ford…some one had asked if anyone had photos of Ms Ford?

    Please contact me…

    Thank you,

    Peter

  19. Dawn Daft

    A nice lady at my tag sale yesterday told me about Laurel Ford and her connection to Bethlehem while she was reading the book I had for sale. “The Little Book About God”, do you think that the historical society would like my copy? I know the peope at the town hall and can leave it with them.

  20. Peter K

    I think that they would. Please send me your email. I am yscarf@me.com

    I will then forward your offer to the President of the Bethlehem Historical Society,

    Thank you,

    Peter

  21. peg

    When did Lauren Ford paint the Guardina Angel? Is there an original in a musuem? Did she have copies printed to sell at that time? Would they have been sold at museums in different parts of the county? Thanks!

  22. Peter K

    Hello,

    I don’t know when she painted it…yes, there are prints. I have one.

    Peter

  23. joe brillon-salem,ny

    nov. 27,1937-signed by l. ford-upper right corner of barn with hay and standsion in background-calf lying down and round container for grain. upper left is a cat sittin with back facing to me —two drawing in water color are in this also.I love this and I just bought in recently-trying to find mor on her joe

  24. Mikaella

    I know others have expressed the same interest, but if anyone has a real print (not like a poster) of “Guardian Angel” I would be interested in purchasing it. My grandparents had one in their home for many years and I fell in love with it. Unfortunately I was not the one to inherit it. I am looking for my own copy now, but all I can find are poster or stock prints.

    • David Harding

      I inherited the Guardian Angel picture from my Uncle after he passed away about 2001. It was a present to him in 1975 and is in a beautiful frame. It looks like the real thing but it’s hard to say. It was a Christmas present to him. I decided to take it down and put a picture of our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary in it’s place. I was curious about looking who the painter was and then googled Lauren Ford and was surprised to see that a few peolpe are so interested in this. It is a beautiful painting and by looking at the picture in the frame and the frame it does look very very old.

    • David Harding

      I inherited the Guardian Angel picture from my Uncle after he passed away about 2001. It was a present to him in 1975 and is in a beautiful frame. It looks like the real thing but it’s hard to say. It was a Christmas present to him. I decided to take it down and put a picture of our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary in it’s place. I was curious about looking who the painter was and then googled Lauren Ford and was surprised to see that a few peolpe are so interested in this. It is a beautiful painting and by looking at the picture in the frame and the frame it does look very very old

    • Theresa Bulock

      Hi I have a signed print of the guardian angel. I am looking to sell. Thanks.. Reply to; t_resa_ma@hotmail.com

  25. Barbara tinker

    You might be interested in the very rambling “Goodbye Ferragil” by F. Newlin Price. Has a section on Lauren Ford.

    • A. Vivian Daugert

      Hello Barbara, I am the widow of Stan Daugert, whose first wife, Barbara Bredin, was a relative of the owner of Ferargil (art studio/gallery/dealer) on 63 East 57th Street, NY. I have an original signed painting in a beautiful velvet mat and wood frame titled “Madonna & Child”. It is small but quite lovely and that is what drew me to this site. Stan was related by marriage to the Price’s and spoke of them often. He saved correspondence over the years. Thank you for the reference to Newlin Price’s work.
      Vivian Daugert

  26. David Harding

    I inherited the Guardian Angel picture from my Uncle after he passed away about 2001. It was a present to him in 1975 and is in a beautiful frame. It looks like the real thing but it’s hard to say. It was a Christmas present to him. I decided to take it down and put a picture of our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary in it’s place. I was curious about looking who the painter was and then googled Lauren Ford and was surprised to see that a few peolpe are so interested in this. It is a beautiful painting and by looking at the picture in the frame and the frame it does look very very old.

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