Collection inventory

Finding Aids

Letterio Calapai Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Dec 1992

Revision history:
20 Sep 2006 converted to EAD (AMCon)
10 Jan 2007 integrated additions (MRR)
15 Sep 2015 added link to related material (MRC)
5 Dec 2016 rehoused, box 1-2 and index updated (MS)

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Calapai, Letterio, 1902-1993
Title: Letterio Calapai Papers
Dates: 1932-1989
Quantity: 0.75 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the Italian-American painter, engraver, illustrator, printmaker who worked in New York City and Chicago. Correspondence (1932-1967); exhibition catalogs and invitations (1930s-1977); original artwork (prints and etchings); reproductions of artwork; and printed materials, including articles and newspaper clippings (1933-1968) about Calapai. Predominantly incoming correspondence includes that of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, John Taylor Arms, Artists for Victory, Inc., Aline Bernstein, Boston Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, Charles Burchfield, Lorenz B. Graham, Lou Harrison, Arthur Heintzelman, Codman Hislop, Clayton Hoagland, Charles Hopkinson, A. Hyatt Mayor, Riverside Museum, Max Rudolf, Franz Schoenberner, Society of American Graphic Artists, Benton Spruance, Andrew Stasik, Lynd Ward, Morris Weisenthal, Mabel Wheaton, John Hall Wheelock, Arthur Zaidenberg, and Carl Zigrosser. Exhibition catalogs includes catalogs for two Rockwell Kent exhibits at Calapai's gallery.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Letterio Calapai Papers consists of correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the Italian-American painter and printmaker (b. 1902). While revealing little of his personal life, the collection, spanning 1932 through 1977, documents Calapai's professional career as an artist and educator in Chicago and in New York City, where he had a studio and gallery for many years.

Predominantly incoming, the Correspondence covers 1932 to 1967 and includes a few of Calapai's outgoing holograph and typescript drafts of both his business and personal letters. Correspondents include artists (John Taylor Arms, Charles Burchfield, Alvin Dunkle, Thomas Fern, Charles Hopkinson, Karl Schrag, Benton Spruance, Lynd Ward); authors (Samuel Hopkins Adams, Aline Bernstein, Lorenz B. Graham, Codman Hislop, Clayton Hoagland, Franz Schoenberner, Mabel Wolfe Wheaton, John Hall Wheelock, Arthur Zaidenberg) curators (A. Hyatt Mayor, Arthur Heintzelman, Carl Zigrosser); and musicians (Lou Harrison, Max Rudolf). Organizational correspondence includes various educational institutions (Albright Art School, East Carolina College, Howard University, New School for Social Research, University of Buffalo); galleries and museums (Albright Art Gallery, George Binet Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Norlyst Art Gallery, Riverside Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Ruth White Gallery); libraries (Boston Public Library, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, New York Public Library, Pack Memorial Public Library); and professional and cultural organizations (American Federation of Arts, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Artists for Victory, Inc., Audubon Artists, Inc., Society of American Graphic Artists, Inc.).

Calapai's Artwork is documented in a subject file which includes exhibition catalogs, invitations and other material; original artwork (two etchings, nine prints, and a cancelled copper plate for one of the etchings); a few photographs and reproductions of his work; and printed material relating to the Intaglio Workshop for Advanced Printmaking (New York, N.Y.) and the Workshop Gallery (Glencoe, Ill.), both of which Calapai founded and directed. Exhibition catalogs and invitations for his many one-man and group shows from the 1930s through the 1970s trace Calapai's artistic beginnings as a painter and watercolorist through his work in wood-engraving and subsequent exploration of innovative techniques in printmaking. Other exhibition material includes two catalogs for a Rockwell Kent exhibit at Calapai's gallery and receipts and jury reports for many of the shows in which Calapai participated.

Writings include holograph notes, a letter which was printed in the May 1968 issue of Art Scene, and a note on his philosophy of work. Defining the art of the printmaker, Calapai wrote in 1967: "This process involves the flights of his imagination, the power of his emotions, a striving for meaning and mystery, and the control over his tools."

Acknowledgements, awards and memberships, publicity, reviews and comments on Calapai's work, as well as materials relating to his education, foundation grant applications, teaching assignments, and appearances in print constitute Memorabilia. Printed material includes articles about (1948-1966) and newspaper clippings (1933-1968).

A selected index to correspondence is provided at the end of this finding aid.

Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by type or topic. Correspondence is arranged chronologically.


Access Restrictions: The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions: Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The Syracuse University art collection contains a number of Calapai pieces. For more information see SU Art Galleries ( or call 315-443-4097.

Special Collections Research Center's Rare Books Collection has a number of books illustrated by Calapai, including a collection of Aesop's Fables (1973), Lorenz Graham's How God fix Jonah (1946) and Tales of Momolu (1946), Look homeward, angel (portfolio, 2003), and Mohawk by Codman Hislop (1948). For a complete listing, please refer to the Classic Catalog , and search on "Calapai, Letterio" in the Author field.

See also the Robert Smith Collection relating to Letterio Calapai.

Subject Headings


Arms, John Taylor, 1887-1953.
Bernstein, Aline, 1881-1955.
Burchfield, Charles, 1893-1967.
Calapai, Letterio, 1902-1993.
Graham, Lorenz B.
Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003.
Heintzelman, Arthur William, 1891-1965.
Hislop, Codman.
Hoagland, Clayton.
Hopkinson, Charles, 1869-1962.
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971.
Mayor, A. Hyatt (Alpheus Hyatt), 1901-1980.
Rudolf, Max, 1902-1995.
Schoenberner, Franz, 1892-1970.
Spruance, Benton, 1904-1967.
Stasik, Andrew.
Ward, Lynd, 1905-1985.
Weisenthal, Morris.
Wheaton, Mabel Wolfe.
Wheelock, John Hall, 1886-1978.
Zaidenberg, Arthur, 1908-1990.
Zigrosser, Carl, 1891-1975.

Corporate Bodies

American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Artists for Victory, Inc.
Boston Public Library.
Brooklyn Museum.
Riverside Museum (New York, N.Y.)
Society of American Graphic Artists.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Engravers -- United States.
Etchers -- United States.
Illustrators -- United States.
Italian Americans.
Painters -- United States.
Printmakers -- United States.
Wood-engravers -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Letterio Calapai Papers,
Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library

Acquisition Information

Gift of Letterio Calapai, 1968, 1977.

Table of Contents

Biographical material


Subject file: artwork



Selected index to correspondence


Biographical material
Box 1 Biographical material
See also Selected Index to Correspondence at end of this inventory.
Box 1 Correspondence 1932-1967, undated (8 folders)
Subject file: artwork
Box 1 Exhibition catalogs, invitations 1930s-1980s (2 folders)
Box 1 Exhibition catalogs, Rockwell Kent 1971, 1974
Box 1 Exhibition receipts and jury reports
Original art
Box 1 Copper plate - Cancelled copper plate for "Smiling Girl"
Box 1 Etchings - Out of the Woods, Smiling Girl (2 items)
Box 1 Prints - Memento, Northern Lights, Man and the Universe, Jeweled City, Untitled (dove) (5 items)
Box 1 Prints - The Angel, Four Gospels illustr., Pro-Musica, smiling Girl, Thomas Wolfe Collection (bookplate for St. Mary's College) (4 items)
Box 1 Photographs, reproductions of work
Box 1 Intaglio Workshop for Advanced Printmaking (New York, N.Y.)
Box 1 Workshop Gallery (Glencoe, Ill.)
Box 2 Miscellaneous - holograph notes, printed material
Box 2 Acknowledgement of gift, Brandeis University
Box 2 Awards, memberships
Box 2 Education-related, Brooklyn College
Box 2 Financial
Box 2 Foundation grant application materials - photostats of letters
Printed material
Box 2 Articles about 1948-1966
Box 2 Clippings 1933-1968, undated
Box 2 Publicity
Box 2 Reviews (excerpts), comments on Calapai's illustrations
Box 2 Teaching-related 1946-1965

Selected index to correspondence