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Joseph Stella papers, 1905-1970

Stella, Joseph, 1877-1946

Painter, Illustrator


Collection Information

Size: 2.9 Linear feet, (partially microfilmed on 3 reels)

Summary: Biographical material, letters, photographs, sketches and drawings, notes and writings, financial records, and printed material.
REELS 346-347: Seventy-four letters, 1922-1960, primarily from museums, galleries, art organizations, and colleagues, among them the Museum of Modern Art, Artists for Victory, ACA Gallery, M. Knoedler & Co., the Whitney Museum, Andrew Bondi, Marie Dumoulard; and Charmion von Wiegard; 42 photographs of Stella, some with friends, 1905-1926, and 20 photographs of his works and gallery installations; writings by Stella, undated and 1933-1938; clippings, 1913-1946; exhibition catalogs, 1917-1963; an exhibition catalog for Moses Soyer; miscellaneous printed material; and 2 savings account record books, 1934-1941.
REEL 440 AND SCANNED One photograph of Stella, previously microfilmed under Photos of Artists I, and subsequently scanned and returned to the Stella papers.
REEL 5137, frames 1-63: 29 loose sketches and studies by various artists in a variety of media, and one 16 p. scrapbook of sketches.
REEL 5137, frames 64-354: A scrapbook containing clippings and photographs of works of art; miscellaneous sketches and printed material possibly used as source material for paintings or collages; handwritten notes by Stella; photographs of Stella's brother, Dr. Antonio Stella, and clippings concerning his other brother, Dr. Giovanni Stella; two letters, undated and 1933, from Helen Walser, who lived with Stella from 1923-1926; drawings by Walser's daughter and other children; and exhibition catalogs.
UNMICROFILMED: Letters, 1921-1947 and 1970, from art organizations, museums, family members, and colleagues including Katherine Dreier, August Mosca, and Charmion von Wiegand; calling cards; a Modern Painters and Sculptors, Inc., membership card; an electrocardiographic report, 1941; miscellaneous prescription slips; a contract with the Cooperative Gallery, 1937; invoices and receipts, 1938-1948; 12 rough sketches; 6 address books; 6 notebooks, ca. 1936; lists of works, 1937-1946; miscellaneous notes, undated and 1925; an autobiographical essay, ca. 1925; miscellaneous writings by Stella and others; 8 photographs of Stella and family members, and photographs of works of art, travel photographs of Italy; clippings, 1913-1945; exhibition announcements and catalogs for Stella, 1920-1961, and other printed material; and miscellany.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, draftsman; New York, N.Y. Born near Naples, Italy. Came to New York City in 1896. Studied at the Art Students League and at the New York School of Art from 1898-1908, and in Italy and France from 1909 to 1913, when he returned to New York.


Papers on reels 346-347 were donated 1971 by Stella's nephew, Sergio Stella; he donated unmicrofilmed material in 1986. Some clippings and exhibition catalogs were transferred to the National Museum of American Art vertical files after microfilming. Papers on reel 5137 were donated 1996 by Alan Pensler, except for 29 loose sketches and a 16 p. scrapbook of sketches (frames 1-63)which he lent for microfilming. Pensler, a Washington, D.C. art dealer,acquired the papers from a woman who purchased the home and its contents of Dr. Giovanni Stella, Stella's brother.

Language Note

Some letters, writings, and clippings are in Italian and French.

Location of Originals

  • Reel 5137, frames 1-63 (29 sketches and a 16 p. scrapbook of sketches): Originals returned to the lender, Alan Pensler, after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels 346-347 and 5137 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Joseph Stella papers, 1905-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.