Frank Porter Wood

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Frank Porter Wood in 1924.

Frank Porter Wood (29 June 1882 – 20 March 1955) was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He is best remembered for his many gifts and bequests of artworks to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Life and career[edit]

Wood was born in Peterborough, Ontario to Canadian immigrants of mixed parentage: his father was Irish (John W. Wood) and his mother Scottish (Jane Porter). He married Emma Matilda Junkin in 1906 and had three daughters: Mary (Mollie) Dorothy Porter Wood, Frances (Franie) Junkin Wood and Joyce Rogers Wood.

In 1897, he started working in Peterborough, Ontario as a clerk of Central Canada Loan and Savings Company started by Senator George Albertus Cox. In 1899, Wood moved to Montreal to work at the National Trust, incorporated a year earlier by Cox and his brother Edward Rogers Wood. Later in life, he became a Vice-President of the National Trust.

In 1903, Wood started up, with Sir Frank Wilton Baillie and his brother James W. Baillie, a brokerage firm, Baillie Brothers and Company (later Baillie, Wood, and Croft), which operated on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In 1910, Wood became President of Burlington Steel. In 1912, the Bankers’ Bond Company Limited was formed to succeed Baillie, Wood, and Croft.

Late in 1914, Wood and Sir Frank Baillie collaborated with the owners of the Chadwick Brass Company in Hamilton to set up the large Canadian Cartridge Company Limited, of which Sir Frank Baillie became president and Wood Vice-President. Until his death in 1955, Wood continued to participate in the Canadian business community as a financier.

The home of Wood on Bayview Avenue that now houses the Crescent School.

Wood and his family were consummately modest; they never spoke of their accolades and were quickly forgotten. Wood, however, will be remembered not for his business accomplishments but for his love of the arts and philanthropy. To this date, he is still the single most generous donor of the Art Gallery of Ontario. “He is given a place of honour among the earlier collectors of Old Master paintings in Toronto”, according to David McTavish of Queen’s University and a former curator of the Art Gallery of Toronto.

Wood was a client of Sir Joseph Duveen. Like most of Duveen's clients, Wood donated his paintings to public institutions, including his residence that was distinguished by the Beaux-Arts architecture, influenced and built by William Adams Delano and which now houses the Crescent School.

"The Harvest Wagon" by Thomas Gainsborough, donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1955 by Wood.

He died on 20 March 1955 in Toronto and his major bequest to the Art Gallery of Ontario included: The Harvest Wagon by Thomas Gainsborough, Daedalus Warning His Son Icarus by Anthony van Dyck, A Portrait of Dr. Joseph Joachim by John Singer Sargent, Portrait of a Gentleman, Isaak Abrahamsz Massa by Frans Hals, Lady with a Lap Dog by Rembrandt van Rijn, and Portrait of Vincent Laurensz van der Vinne by Frans Hals.

Other paintings owned or donated by Wood include artists such as: Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Lambert Sustris, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Maurice Utrillo, Claude Monet, Aelbert Cuyp, Auguste Rodin, John Singer Sargent, Francesco Raibolini (known as Francia), Jacopo Comin (Tintoretto), Tiziano Vecelli and Jacob van Ruisdael, to mention only a few.

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