Carlo Alberto Ciampaglia papers, 1909-1978

A Finding Aid to the Carlo Ciampaglia Papers, 1909-1978, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Carlo Ciampaglia was born March 8, 1891 in Roccaraso, Italy, the son of Natale and Benelde Delmonico Ciampaglia. He came to the United States with his family before his first birthday and became a naturalized citizen in 1919. After attending public schools in Hoboken, New Jersey, Ciampaglia began studying drawing at Cooper Union in 1909, and painting at the National Academy of Design, receiving his diploma in 1917.

In 1920, Ciampaglia married Annette Paltrinieri, and in the same year, he was awarded the Prix de Rome. This prize entitled him to study at the American Academy in Rome, Italy, for the next three years. During this time, he also traveled to other European countries.

Shortly after returning to New York in 1923, Ciampaglia executed a commission for Philadelphia architect Harry Sternfeld to decorate the house of Mr. Frank Potter of Rome, New York. Other commissions included designs for the ceilings of the Chicago Tribune Building, decorations in the chapel of the Fairmount Mausoleum, Newark, and decoration for the niches and ceilings at the First Slovak Girls' Academy, Danville, Pennsylvania.

In 1936, Ciampaglia was commissioned to undertake a major mural project for the Texas Centennial Exposition, for which he completed murals for the transportation, foods, agriculture, and livestock buildings. Three years later, he completed murals for the foods building at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Ciampaglia lived on his estate, "Woodpeckers' Point," in Middle Valley, New Jersey and maintained a studio on Broadway in New York City. He was also an instructor at Cooper Union and at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York. He was a member of the Mural Painters Society of America, the Architectural League, and the Allied Artists of America, and was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design.

Carlo Alberto Ciampaglia died in 1975.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of mural painter and interior designer Carlo Ciampaglia measure 5.6 linear feet and date from 1909 to 1978. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence primarily with colleagues discussing projects and the American Academy in Rome Alumni Association's George Washington Bicentennial Exhibition in Washington, D.C.; scattered personal business records including estate documents for various family members and financial material; notes and writings concerning a variety of topics including the Stations of the Cross, decorative encaustic painting, and a typescript about James Whistler; art work including sketchbooks and sketches; printed material including clippings and exhibition catalogs; and photographs of Ciampaglia, family members, and miscellaneous art work. Also found are project files containing correspondence, contracts, financial records, art work, printed material and photographs for fifteen of Ciampaglia's most important commissions.

Arrangement and Series Description

All series are arranged chronologically. Glass plate negatives have been housed separately in Boxes 6 and 7, and are closed to researchers. Oversized material from various series has been housed in Boxes 8, 9, 10, and OV 11, and is noted in the Series Descriptions/Container Listing section at the appropriate folder title with see also/see references. The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

  • Business records
  • Interior decorators--New York (State)--New York
  • Muralists--New York (State)--New York
  • Photographs
  • Sketchbooks
  • Sketches


The Carlo Ciampaglia papers were donated in 1978 by Rosalie Ciampaglia, the artist's widow.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed in 2006 by Jean Fitzgerald. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2014 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Carlo Ciampaglia papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Carlo Ciampaglia papers, 1909-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1912-1969, undated
(Box 1; 8 folders)

This series includes biographical accounts, school certificates, identity cards, passports, membership certificates and award certificates.

Box Folder
1 1-2 Biographical Accounts, 1939-1969, undated
1 3 School Certificates, 1912-1956
1 4 Identity Cards and Driver's Licenses, 1917-1940
1 5 Passports, 1920-1966
1 6 Visas for Travel to Italy, Mexico, and Nicaragua, 1920-1959
1 7 Membership Certificates, 1929, undated
1 8 Award Certificate, 1951

Series 2: Correspondence, 1912-1978, undated
(Box 1; 45 folders)

Correspondence consists of letters exchanged with family and colleagues, primarily with Harry Sternfeld referring to various projects, including a report and 13 photographs, of the deteriorating cyclorama mural at Gettysburg. The photographs were sent in July-August 1947; see Correspondence, 1943-1947. Additional project files are found in Series 6. There are approximately a dozen letters from sculptor Alvin Meyer, and scattered letters from Edward Amateis, Gaetano Cecere, Dean Cornwell, Paul Cret, George Davidson, Barry Faulkner, Eric Gugler, Eugene Savage, and Ezra Winter. Correspondence concerning the George Washington Bicentennial Exhibition consists primarily of letters and scattered notes documenting Ciampaglia's role as Acting Chairman during the planning of this exhibition. Participants were members of the American Academy in Rome Alumni Association and included architects Roderic Barbour Barnes, Cameron Clark, Thomas Harlan Ellett, Moise Goldstein, Douglas Orr, Harry E. Warren, Morris H. Whitehouse, and Edgar I. Williams, landscape architect Edward Lawson, mural painters Allyn Cox, Barry Faulkner, and Eugene Savage, and sculptors John Gregory, C. Paul Jennewein, Alvin Meyer, and Lawrence Tenney Stevens.

Box Folder
1 9 Letters from Writers with Unknown Surnames, undated
1 10 Letters from Writers with Surnames "A-C,," undated
1 11 Letters from Writers with Surnames "D-L,," undated
1 12 Letters from Writers with Surnames "M-Z,," undated
1 13 Correspondence, 1912-1920
1 14-22 Correspondence, 1921-1929
1 23-36 Correspondence, 1930-1937
1 37 Correspondence, 1939-1942
1 38-40 Correspondence, 1943-1947
1 41 Correspondence, 1948-1954
1 42-44 Correspondence, 1955-1959
1 45-48 Correspondence, 1960-1964
1 49 Correspondence, 1965-1978
1 50-53 Correspondence Concerning the George Washington Bicentennial Exhibition, 1928-1932, undated

Series 3: Business Records, 1923-1961, undated
(Box 1; 11 folders)

Business Records includes estate documents for various Ciampaglia family members, and miscellaneous financial records including receipts from financial transactions with E. Richard Panzironi.

Box Folder
1 54 Miscellaneous Estate Documents, 1933-1954
1 55 Notebook of Expenses, 1924-1932
1 56 Ledger Book of Expenses, 1930-1938
1 57-62 Receipts from Financial Transactions with E. Richard Panzironi, 1930-1959
1 63 Miscellaneous Receipts, 1923-1961, undated
1 64 Miscellaneous Business Records, 1932-1960, undated

Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1927, undated
(Box 1; 2 folders)

Miscellaneous notes concern a variety of topics including the Stations of the Cross, decorative encaustic painting, and an illustrated recipe for wine. Writings include a typescript about James Whistler, descriptions of decorations on screens, and a typescript "A Lesson in Socialism" by Thomas J. Shelly.

Box Folder
1 65 Miscellaneous Notes, 1927, undated
1 66 Miscellaneous Typescripts, undated

Series 5: Art Work, 1920, undated
(Box 1, 8; 6 folders)

Art work consists of sketchbooks and loose sketches unconnected with specific mural or interior decoration projects.

Box Folder
1 67 Sketchbook 1, undated
1 68 Sketchbook 2, undated
1 69 Rome Sketchbook, 1920
1 70-72 Sketches, undated
(see also Box 8)
Box Folder
8 10 Oversize Sketches, undated

Series 6: Project Files, 1924-1961, undated
(Box 1-2, 6-8, OV 10; 2.5 linear feet)

Project files contain correspondence primarily with architects, contracts, invoices, receipts, art work, printed material, and photographs concerning Ciampaglia's most important mural and interior decoration commissions. There are glass plate slides of Ciampaglia's work for the Texas Centennial Exposition, New York World's Fair, Isaly Dairy, and the U.S. Military Cemetery at Nettuno, Italy. Sketches for the U.S. Military Cemetery at Nettuno include two paintings on board and cartoons pierced with pin holes for transfer of the various images onto the mural. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.

Box Folder
1 73-74 Lobby Ceiling, Tribune Tower, Chicago, Illinois, Correspondence, 1924-1925
1 75-77 Ceiling Decorations, F. M. Potter Residence, Rome, New York, Correspondence, 1924-1925
1 Pool Decoration, Green Hill Farms Hotel, Overbrook, Pennsylvania
1 78 Correspondence, 1926-1927
1 79-80 Photographs, 1926-1927
1 81 Mosaic Mural, Fairmount Memorial, Newark, New Jersey, Letter and Photographs, 1928
Box Folder
2 Mural, Post Office, Cuthbert, Georgia
2 1-3 Correspondence, 1937-1938
2 4 Correspondence and Centennial Program, 1928-1939
2 5 Photographs, 1937-1938
2 Mural, Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford, Connecticut
2 6-8 Correspondence, July 1929-January 1930
2 9-11 Photographs, 1929-1930
2 12-13 Ceiling Mural, Celeste H. Troth Residence, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Correspondence, 1929-1930
2 Mural, First Slovak Girl's Academy, Danville, Pennsylvania
2 14-17 Correspondence, 1929-1931
2 18-19 Photographs, 1929-1931
(see also Box 8)
2 20 Ceiling Decoration, National Mortgage and Investment Corporation, Colonial Trust Building, Wilmington, Delaware, Correspondence, 1930
2 21 Ceiling Mural, Forum Building Auditorium, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Photographs (including Eric Gugler), 1931
2 22 Vestibule Mural, David Milton Residence, New York, New York, Photographs, 1931
2 Murals, Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas, Texas
2 23 Correspondence, 1935-1937
2 24 Financial Records, 1935-1937
2 25 Typescripts, undated
2 26 Sketches, undated
(see also Box 8)
2 27 Clippings and Printed Material, 1936
(see also OV 11)
2 28-38 Photographs, undated
70 glass plate negatives; Housed in box 6
2 39 Negatives, undated
2 40-48 Glass Plate Negative Envelopes, 1935-1937
2 Murals, New York World's Fair, Flushing Meadows, New York
2 49 Correspondence, May-Oct 1937
2 50 Correspondence, Nov-Dec 1937
(see also Box 8)
2 51 Correspondence, March 1938
2 52 Correspondence, April-May 1938
2 53-55 Correspondence, June 1938
2 56 Correspondence, Jul-Dec 1938
2 57 Correspondence, 1939-1940
2 58-60 Clippings, 1938-1939
2 61 Press Release, 1938
2 62 Booklets, 1939
(see also Box 8)
2 63 Picture Postcards, 1940
2 64-66 Photographs, 1937-1940
58 glass plate negatives; Housed in boxes 6 and 7
2 Murals, Isaly Dairy, Youngstown, Ohio
2 67-70 Correspondence, June 1939-1941
2 71 Brochures, undated
2 72 Photographs, 1939-1941
7 glass plate negatives; Housed in box 7
2 Murals, U. S. Military Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy
2 73-81 Correspondence, 1951-1961, undated
2 82-84 Sketches of Clouds and Airplanes, undated
(see also Box 8)
2 85-87 Sketches of Ships, undated
(see also Box 8)
2 88-90 Sketches of Buildings, undated
2 91-95 Sketches of Lettering, undated
(see also Box 8, OV 11)
2 96 Printed Material, 1957
2 97-98 Photographs, undated
(see also Box 8)
43 glass plate negatives; Housed in box 7
2 99 Color Transparencies, undated
6-7 Glass Plate Negatives of Murals, undated
178 Glass negatives
Box Folder
8 1 Oversize Photographs of the Mural, First Slovak Girl's Academy, Danville, Pennsylvania, undated
8 2 Oversize Sketches of Mural, Texas Centennial Exposition, undated
8 3 Oversize Blueprint for Murals, New York World's Fair, Flushing Meadows, New York, undated
8 4 Oversize Booklets for New York World's Fair, Flushing Meadows, New York, 1939
8 5 Oversize Sketches and Paintings on Board of Clouds and Airplanes for Mural, U.S. Military Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy, undated
8 6 Oversize Sketches of Ships for Mural, U.S. Military Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy, undated
8 7 Oversize Sketches of Lettering for Mural, U.S. Military Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy, undated
8 8 Oversize Photographs of Mural, U.S. Military Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy, undated
OV 11 Oversize Reproductions of Murals, Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas, Texas, undated
OV 11 Oversize Sketches of Lettering for Mural, U.S. Military Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy, undated

Series 7: Printed Material, 1913-1975, undated
(Box 3, 8; 32 folders)

Printed material includes clippings, a prospectus, exhibition announcements and catalogs, annual reports from the American Academy in Rome and the Architectural League of New York, reproductions of art work, and miscellaneous printed material concerning various topics including the Mural Painters, and the National Academy of Design.

Box Folder
3 1-5 Clippings, 1919-1968, undated
3 6 Prospectus, 1916
3 7-21 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1913-1975
3 22 American Academy in Rome Annual Report, 1923
3 23-25 Architectural League of New York Annual Reports, 1926-1932
3 26 The Mural Painters Constitution and By-Laws, 1930
3 27 Program from the National Academy of Design, 1915
3 28 Reproductions of Art Work by Ciampaglia, undated
3 29 Reproductions of Art Work by Others, undated
3 30 Passenger List for Ship President Garfield, 1923
3 31 Miscellaneous Brochures, 1921-1926, undated
Box Folder
8 9 Book, Italian Doorways, 1929

Series 8: Photographs, 1909-1960, undated
(Box 3-5, 7, 9-10; 1.4 linear feet)

Photographs are of Ciampaglia, family members, colleagues, his home and studio, travel scenes, and art work. Album 1 contains photographs of Ciampaglia with friends at Cooper Union, mural projects including the Potter Residence Ceiling Decorations, Green Hill Farms Hotel Pool Decoration, the Bushnell Memorial Hall Murals with Barry Faulkner, the First Slovak Girl's Academy Mural, and the Forum Building Auditorium Ceiling Mural with Eric Gugler, miscellaneous art work, and photographs of a trip to Mason Island, Connecticut. Album 2 contains photographs of trips to Italy, Tangiers, Brussels, Paris, and Canterbury. Album 3 contains photographs of family members and Ciampaglia's home at Woodpecker's Point, Middle Valley, New Jersey. Album 4 contains photographs of Ciampaglia's studio, miscellaneous art work, the U.S. Military Cemetery Murals in Nettuno, Italy, and photographs of trips to Italy, Mexico, Paris, Panama, and within the United States, including views of Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and New Orleans.

Box Folder
3 32-36 Photograph Album 4, 1939-1960
3 37-40 Photographs of Carlo Ciampaglia, 1909-1922, undated
(see also Box 10)
3 41-43 Photographs of Ciampaglia with Friends, 1916-1955, undated
Box Folder
4 1-7 Photographs of Ciampaglia with Friends, 1916-1955, undated
(see also Box 10)
4 8 Photographs of Models, undated
4 9 Photographs of the Studio, undated
4 10-15 Photographs of Italy, 1920-1921, undated
4 16-17 Miscellaneous Travel Photographs, undated
4 18-19 Photographs of Unidentified Projects, undated
33 glass plate negatives; Housed in box 7
4 20 Photographs of Designs for Ceilings, undated
4 21-23 Photographs of Designs for Over-Mantels, undated
4 24 Photographs of Miscellaneous Designs, undated
4 25-28 Photographs of Portraits of Women, undated
Box Folder
5 1-3 Photographs of Portraits of Men, undated
5 4-6 Photographs of Landscapes, undated
5 7-10 Photographs of Miscellaneous Paintings, undated
5 11 Photographs of Art Work by Others, undated
9 Photograph Album 1, undated
9 Photograph Album 2, undated
10 Photograph Album 3, 1929-1941
7 Glass Plate Negatives of Unidentified Projects, undated
33 Glass negatives
10 Oversize Photographs of Ciampaglia, undated
10 Oversize Photographs of Unidentified Woman, undated