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