M. Louise Stowell Papers

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Collection Overview
Title: M. Louise Stowell Papers
Call Number: D.506
Dates: ca. 1889-1910
Physical Description: 44 Box(es) total
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

Biographical/Historical Note
Artist M. Louise Stowell (1861-1930) was born June 16, 1861 in Hornell, New York. She was a daughter of mathematician Thomas P. Stowell (1819-1896) and Henrietta Fowler (1820-1902). The meaning of the initial "M" in Stowell's name is unclear. Lifetime census records sometimes list Minnie, her death certificate says "Marie," her tombstone "Mary." Thomas P. Stowell, if not the whole family, were in Rochester in 1863 when he became Fire Insurance Adjuster and Special Agent for Aetna. By 1884 the Stowells had moved to 29 Atkinson Street in Rochester, where M. Louise lived for the rest of her life. Stowell was a member of the art faculty at Rochester's Mechanics' Institute 1890-1892, after which she studied with Arthur Wesley Dow in Massachusetts and at the Art Students League in New York prior to 1895. She and fellow artist Ada Howe Kent (1857-1942) shared a studio in the Powers Building in the mid-1890s.

Stowell, Harvey Ellis, Claude Bragdon, John E. Dumont and Thillman Fabry incorporated the Rochester Arts and Crafts Society in 1897. The Society's first exhibition of Japanese prints and French posters was held at the Cutler Building in May 1897. In 1903, the group helped to bring an Arts and Crafts Exhibition to Rochester. Initially organized by Gustav Stickley and his United Crafts, the show ran for ten days at the Mechanics' Institute and included work by Stowell, Ellis and Bragdon.

From at least 1889 on, Stowell was an exhibiting member of groups including the Rochester Art Club, the American Watercolor Society, and the New York Watercolor Club. Her work was exhibited not only in Rochester but nationally, and at least in 1896, in Leipzig, Germany. Stowell returned to teaching at Mechanics' Institute 1905-08.

In addition to the watercolors for which she is best known, Stowell designed posters, illustrations, murals and bookbindings. Around 1910, an illness curtailed her ability to produce and exhibit art. At about the same time, she and the bookbinder Margaret Sterling (1873?-1951) opened the "Masu Co." and "Far East Shop," at which they sold imported goods and art supplies. M. Louise Stowell died on February 8, 1930: she is buried in Rochester's Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Scope and Content
The collection consists mainly of 31 boxed scrapbooks of clippings, most titled in Stowell's hand. Scrapbooks in Boxes 1-2 contain correspondence and reviews regarding exhibitions of her work. The scrapbook in Box 30 contains clippings of bookbindings and book covers, a few original photographs of what may be the Nordhoff bindery. The clippings in Box 31 are almost exclusively related to bookbinding with a number of original designs annotated in a hand other than Stowell's, possibly Margaret Sterling's. The collection's second Series, Artwork and photographs 1890-1910, contains photographs of Stowell, original and printed Stowell artwork as well as block prints and photographic reproductions of works by other artists, primarily Harvey Ellis. Stowell and the bookbinder Margaret Sterling may have sold prints like these at their shops, the Masu Co. and the Far East Shop.

Immediate Source of Acquisition
Formerly in the collection of The Strong museum, Rochester, New York.Access
The M. Louise Stowell Papers is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.Use
Reproductions are made upon request but can be subject to restrictions. Permission to publish materials from the collection must currently be requested. Please note that some materials may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information contact rarebks@library.rochester.eduCitation
[Item title, item date], M. Louise Stowell Papers, D.506, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of RochesterRelated Materials
Photographs and mentions of M. Louise Stowell may be found in May Bragdon Diaries. A portrait of Stowell dated Feb. 1885 may be found in one of May Bragdon's photo albums: Bragdon Family Papers-Addition, D.255 Box 8:1 page 4.

Administrative Information
Publisher: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

Finding aid publication date: 2016
Content List
Quoted titles reflect Stowell's labels.
The scrapbooks' bindings and contents are fragile.

Box 1Correspondence, clippings and reviews regarding exhibitions, 1892-1901
Some items laid in.

Box 2Correspondence, clippings and reviews regarding exhibitions, 1900-1907
Box 3"English domestic architecture", 1889-1895
Box 4"Birmingham", 1895-1910
Stowell's title probably refers to Great Britain's Birmingham School of Art, which opened in 1885.

Box 5"Furniture and the house, vol II", ca. 1900
Vol.I is not a part of the collection, Vol. III is in Box 21. Original ink drawing on 45 verso; original pencil drawing on 81 verso.

Box 6"Anatomy", ca. 1900
Box 7"Patterns and Fabrics", ca.1900
Box 8"Mural decoration", ca.1900
Box 9"Italian architecture", ca.1900
Box 10"Backgrounds and figures", ca.1900
Box 11Tourist albumen prints, Italy, 1885-1895
Front cover stamped "M.L.S. Nov. 1, 1889"

Box 12"Covers and letters", 1891-1900
Includes covers of Scribner's, Jugend; designs by Will Bradley; bicycling advertisements; etc.

Box 13"Nature photos", 1887-1904
Nature subjects including animals and plants; also people working; crowds; city lights; boats. C contains some original photographs.

Box 14"Miscellaneous", 1895-1905
Primarily Art Noveau inspired designs in various formats: embroidery/textiles; ceramics; metal; as well as some medieval illuminations and print samples. Covers of Craftsman Aug-Dec 1903 pasted in at back.

Box 15"Leather and stencils", 1895-1910
Box 16"Costume poses", 1897-1910
Clippings laid in include: "English Costume," Dion Clayton Calthrop; "Edward Barry's Collection of Arms,…" Guy Francis Laking; "Figure Drawing," R. G. Hatton; "Composition" series, Mrs. Will Herrick; "How Pictures are Reproduced," Anne Warringdon; "Elements of Illustration" by Thomas W Stevens; program for Ruth St. Denis' Hindoo Dances, Lyceum theater Rochester, April 8-9, 1910.

Box 17"Mural, v.1", ca.1900
Box 18"Mural, v.2", ca.1900
Some loose clippings, including items addressed to Stowell's Matsuri Tea Co Rochester, ca 1905

Box 19"Color, M.Louise Stowell", ca.1900
Box 20"Sculpture and the nude", ca.1900
Box 21"Furniture and the house, v. 3", ca.1900
Includes Stowell's' bookplate designed by Harvey Ellis. Vol. 1 is not in the collection, Vol. 2 is in Box 5.

Box 22"Early Italian (Albrecht Durer), Vol. I", ca.1900
Box 23"Early Italian (Albrecht Durer), Vol. II", ca.1900
Box 24"Pictures, Vol. I", ca.1900
Box 25"Pictures, Vol.II", ca.1900
Box 26"Pictures, Vol.III", ca.1900
Box 27"Flowers and fruit", ca.1900
Box 28"Odds and ends, Vol.I", ca.1900
Box 29"Odds and ends, Vol.II", ca.1900
Box 30"Covers", 1890-1910
Images of bookbindings and book covers. Original photographs of Nordhoff bindery (presumably) pasted inside from cover.

Box 31"Clippings", 1900-1910
Almost exclusively related to bookbinding. Original patterns for bookbindings, with annotations (possibly in Margaret Sterling's hand) at back.

Artwork and photographs, 1890-1910
Box 32, Folder 1Colored block prints
Colored block prints made by Stowell after the work of Harvey Ellis and Ada Howe Kent. The prints, originally mounted on Japanese paper, were apparently sold at The Far East Shop.
7 Item(s) total

Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "Sancta Cecilia", ca. 1912
Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "Mont St. Michel", ca.1910.
2 copies.

Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "Pallas Athena Leading the Ships of the Argonauts", ca.1910.
3 copies.

Ada Howe Kent/M. Louise Stowell. Woman Feeding Birds, ca. 1902.
Box 32, Folder 2Mounted photographic reproductions of works by Harvey Ellis.
5 Item(s) total
Each mount titled and signed "copyright 1910 by M. L. Stowell" in Stowell's' hand.

Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "Annunciation", 1910
Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "Cartoon for St. Cecilia", 1910.
Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "The Hour Glass", 1910.
Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "The Lady of Shalot", 1910.
Harvey Ellis / M. Louise Stowell. "The Abbey of Mont St. Michel", 1910.
Drawer Bragdon 15 right, File 1Posters and original artwork.
7 Item(s) total
Oversize folder.
Last drawer of Bragdon architectural flat files.

Union and Advertiser, Seventieth Anniversary folio, Oct. 26, 1896.
23 x 17.75" closed.
Stowell illustration in color, advertisements other 3 pages.

Poster. George P. Humphrey at the Sign of the "Old Book Man" No. 25 Exchange St. Rochester N.Y., ca.1895
23.5 x 17"
Printed by Peerless Co. Rochester. Signed in pencil: "Louise Stowell."

Optima Nahmaschine.
6 5/8 x 10."
Watercolor collage. Signed with Stowell's device.

"Grills for mausoleum of C. L. Stowell"
14 x 10.5"
Drawing in ink. In Stowell's hand: "trace these drawings and return to M. Louise Stowell, 768 Powers Bldg, Rochester, NY.".

"Poster label Chili Sauce, Rochester"
13 x 8."
Colored inks, watercolor. Signed: M.L.S.

Door detail, C.L. Stowell mausoleum.
16.5 x 8."
Ink. Unsigned, but "Scale 2"=1 foot." in MLS' hand.

"Design for bronze door of mausoleum for C. L Stowell"
18 x 13.25."
Ink and pencil. Unsigned, but "Scale 2 inches=1 foot" and "trace these drawings and return to M. Louise Stowell, 768 Powers Bldg, Rochester, NY" in Stowell's hand.

Cover for Scribner's, May, no year.
23.5 x 16.25"
Pencil, charcoal and watercolor. Signed MLS.

Box 32, Folder 3Photographs of M. Louise Stowell
A portrait of Stowell dated February 1885 may be found in May Bragdon's photo album in Bragdon Family Papers-Addition, D.255 Box 8:1 page 4.

M. Louise Stowell seated at desk in studio
1.5 x 2"
Silver gelatin print.

Woman presumed to be M. Louise Stowell posing for "Philosophia."
3.5 x 3 5/8"
Salt print.

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