... famous landscape artist's gift still pays dividends
There are many kinds of love, the love that brings two people together in
marriage, love of children, family, culture and a larger circle of humanity. In
the array of Valentine's Day stories we might pause to remember a local
historical figure who lived in our fair city for a brief time long ago and felt
enamored with the place, the artist Felix Albert Gendrot (1866–1955).
A painter, sculptor and art instructor, Gendrot was born in Cambridge, Mass. to
French immigrant parents Pierre and Marie. He lived in Melrose during a
formative childhood. After early training at Massachusetts State Normal Art
School (now known as Mass College of Art) he studied in Paris at the Academy
Julian under Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin-Constant, also under sculptors Denis
Puech and Raoul Verlet. Gendrot is best known for his landscapes. A member of
the famed “Boston School” of artists, he taught and lectured here and in
Cleveland. The Copley Society archives numerous Gendrot drawings.
Gendrot’s admiring impressions of Melrose stayed with him, the elegant
architecture, tree-lined streets, parks and people. Gendrot ultimately married
widowed patron, Almira Torry Blake Fenno, a woman much older whose portrait now
hangs in Melrose Library. Both shared a love of and dedication to art. After her
passing Gendrot shared his inheritance. Upon his own death gratitude shown for
our community established a permanent trust fund in honor of his father.
Gendrot’s gift in perpetuity purchases art books for the library, each year
expanding the existing collection.
These fine art treasures are readily available on open shelves unlike limited
access in other major libraries where one must view volumes on site, not be
allowed to sign them out. We are fortunate to have this truly stellar resource,
quite unusual for a suburban library. Over an ensuing century and even in an age
of computers the work of visual artists is still sought in books. Interested
borrowers from far and wide continue to come discover what Felix Gendrot has
made possible and hold in their hands his special valentine to us.
March 2, 2012