E-Museum of Pyrographic Art

Antique Art Hall


to the
J. William Fosdick
Salon No. 4

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Georgian Court,
George J. Gould Estate, Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Digital image of Georgian Court from a 1908 postcard

A dozen portraits of literary and other famous figures rendered in fire etching on decorative wood panels by J. William Fosdick are another tribute to the talent and success of this artist.

The twelve panels, enhanced with gilded details, are in the library of Georgian Court, which was once the magnificent mansion that graced the 155-acre estate of railroad magnate George J. Gould. The house was completed in about 1897. The image above shows how the mansion looked back in 1908.

From King's Notable New Yorkers, 1899

Today the stately mansion graces what is now the campus of Georgian Court University, and Fosdick's twelve panels still decorate the beautiful library that now serves as the meeting room for the president of the university.

Although it is hoped that in the not-too-distant future, images of Fosdick's 12 fire-etched panels will be on display here in this salon of the E-Museum's Antique Hall, there is an illustration of one of the panels that appeared as the fifth image in a 1900 article entitled BURNT WOOD DECORATION by Marie Jonreau in Puritan Magazine, exhibited here in the E-Museum. It was thanks to this image, displayed also below, that the research for the Georgian Court panels began. Unfortunately, it is untitled.

Untitled Portrait
by J. William Fosdick

Pyrography enhanced with gilded details

In the 1969 book by Edwin Palmer Hoyt entitled The Goulds: A Social History is the following mention of the Fosdick panels on p. 142: "The library's handsome burnt-wood walls were designed by J. W. Fosdick."

Back in 1909, J. William Fosdick himself commented on these panels in his article Fire Etching in Home Decoration in Country Life Magazine, as follows:
"Mr. George Gould's library at Lakewood is in very dark coca-bola wood, and above his bookcases, which stand about five feet high, there is a series of panels illustrating decoratively the book plates of famous authors."

Similarly, in his 1909 article The Art of Fire-Etching in Palette and Bench magazine, he refers to those same panels as "the heraldic book plates of historic characters."

Georgian Court University's archivist Sister Barbara Williams has confirmed that Fosdick's panels are there, and that they were at one time restored and re-gilded. She described two of the panels flanking the fireplace on one wall—"each a panel of a queen (probably Elizabeth)"—and the remaining panels embedded in the paneling that surrounds what was once the Gould family's personal library. Although some of the panels have since been covered by large religious paintings, Sr. Barbara described the five remaining panels, as follows:
"The panels by Fosdick in the Mansion Library are coat-of-arms-like designs (each different) for Alfred Tennyson, George Washington, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Dickens and Daniel Webster."

Thanks to an 1899 article in TRUTH Magazine, the E-Museum has now discovered two additional images of the panels described as "queens" by Sr. Barbara Williams. Like the first one displayed above, these two are untitled, unfortunately. Of these two panels (displayed following), the second is reminiscent of Fosdick's massive Louis XIV panel in composition and grandeur, although the actual size of the regal panel here is not documented in the article.

Untitled Portrait
by J. William Fosdick

Pyrography enhanced with gilded details

Untitled Portrait
by J. William Fosdick

Pyrography enhanced with gilded details

The Sisters of Mercy acquired the estate from the heirs of George J. Gould and this beauty of the Gilded Age with the stately residence at its center has been the campus of their Catholic university since 1924. Following is how the mansion looks today at Georgian Court University.

Georgian Court
Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Digital image courtesy of Georgian Court University

If you have either any questions to ask or any information to offer regarding these J. William Fosdick works or others by this artist, please e-mail the E-Museum Curator.

You are leaving the J. William Fosdick Salon No. 4.

You can return to the

Antique Art Hall

or continue on your tour to one of the following:

Pyrographic Art Exhibit Halls:

Portraits and Paintings

Decorative and Applied Art


Folk and Traditional Art

Children's Pyrographic Art

Special Pyrographic Art

The Book Store and Library

Pyrography Tools and Techniques

Your questions and comments are welcome and appreciated. Please e-mail Curator.

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© 2008, 2009, 2010 Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.
15 January 2010.