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American School

Portrait of William van Duzer Lawrence, oil on canvas, 32 x 26 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Underhill

It is fitting that Lawrence’s portrait be hung in the mayor’s office, for it is to this man and his vision for a planned community that Bronxville owes its special character. Lawrence was never the village’s mayor – that position was given to the other founding fathers of the newly incorporated Bronxville in 1898. Instead, Lawrence planned and developed a community that was congenial and culturally rich – and artists played an important role in his design.

The Portrait of William van Duzer Lawrence is one of a number of likenesses of Lawrence that was passed down to the sitter’s heirs. The most commanding of these, painted by Violet Oakley, hangs in Westlands, Lawrence’s former home and now part of Sarah Lawrence College. Although the painter of this work is not known, the image is sensitively rendered, very much in the tradition of 19th- and early 20th- century portraiture.