Full Name Henry Gurdon Marquand
Born 11 April 1819 in New York (Manhattan), New York
Died 26 February 1902 in New York (Manhattan), New York
Buried Island Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island
Elected 6 June 1863 at age forty-four
Archivist’s Note: Father of Allan Marquand and Henry Marquand
If ever there was an “amateur of letters and the fine arts” entitled to honor in an association of lovers of these things, it was Henry G. Marquand. To intense and unflagging zest as a collector, he united sound and delicate judgment, wide and well-assimilated knowledge and experience, sensitive and catholic enjoyment of the best, and a fine passion for spreading far and for perpetuating its lovely and beneficent influence. Though deprived of the help and discipline of what we are accustomed, sometimes rather blindly, to regard as the “higher education,” he manifested to a very notable degree the qualities which that education is supposed to foster: active intelligence, alert interest in things of the mind, a firm grasp of the essentials of worthy living,—above all, a just perspective. In the handling of complex and difficult business affairs, his mastery gave him great wealth, as wealth was measured in the time of his acquisitions. In his use of his well-earned fortune he knew how to add greatly to its intrinsic value, and so to invest it that future generations shall share in its dividends. His business career was as honorable as it was successful; it was for him the solid foundation on which he built the superstructure of his benefactions. There is neither time nor need to recite these here. Visitors for many a year to our Museum of Art will have but to look about them for his impressive and enduring monument. The treasures of many periods and of various arts, bronzes, ceramics, marbles, and the canvases vital with the genius of Velasquez and Turner, Rembrandt and Gainsborough, Franz Hals and Hogarth, Van Dyck and Reynolds,—these are the reminders of his generosity and of much more. For the large sum of money that his gifts must represent is of less worth than the patient and devoted service which he gave as trustee and especially as treasurer from 1883 to 1890, when he succeeded John Taylor Johnston as President. He then gave, and gave unstintingly, not only of the best he had, but of the best he was, and, as a rich part of his reward, his spirit shall be transmitted through his example and his labors, as well as through the beauty to which he has secured a permanent home.
1903 Century Association Yearbook