|Title:||Marian Stoll letters to Elizabeth Morison|
|Collection No.:||MSN/MN 5024|
|Creator:||Stoll, Marian, 1879-1960|
|Extent:||27 folders; 1 container; .5 linear feet|
|Language:||Collection material in English.|
|Repository:||University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556|
|Abstract:||A collection of 100 manuscript personal letters written by American textile artist Marian Stoll to her friend Elizabeth Morison, all dated between 1928 and 1938. The letters describe aspects of her professional life as well as her experiences living in Paris, Athens, and later, the U.S.|
Stoll, Marian, 1879-1960
Women artists -- 20th century
Expatriate artists -- Foreign countries -- 20th century -- Intellectual life
Letters -- 20th century
Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Marian Stoll Letters to Elizabeth Morison, [Folder no.], Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.
Acquisition and Processing Note: The Marian Stoll Letters to Elizabeth Morison were acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2016, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia. Arranged and described 2017, by Debra Dochuk and George Rugg. Finding aid 2017, by Debra Dochuk and George Rugg.
Marian Stoll (1879-1960) was an American textile artist. She was born on 15 February 1879 in Waterbury, Connecticut, the daughter of Roswell Buck (1841-1915) and Minnie Donaldson (b. 1856). By 1900 Stoll was attending classes in the Department of Fine and Applied Art at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, in Philadelphia. In 1902 she married Hugo Leon Stoll (1879-1961), an electrical engineering student at the school. Passport records from 1903 indicate Stoll's profession as "artist." From 1908-10 and 1911-16 Stoll lived in Germany, mainly in Munich, where she continued to study and practice embroidery. She also made two prolonged visits to Vienna, where she became familiar with the fine Austrian wools she would long favor in her work. Marian and Leon Stoll divorced in 1911 or 1912; they had no children. In February 1916 Stoll moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where she worked as a clerk for the
In Oxford Stoll began to gain a measure of recognition as an artist. As she later summarized her mature aesthetic: "After having done a good deal of professional embroidery in Vienna and in England, I came to think I might be able to paint in wool. So I set out to test my hypothesis. For a long time now, I have felt that a needle with wool was just as respectable and legitimate a medium for serious painting as any other, and so I have deliberatley gone after painters' objectives, such as light effects, recession, volume, aerial perspective, atmospheric quality, texture etc. . . . it ought to become obvious that wool used in this way has possibilities far beyond certain much admired media—for instance, it is a hundred times more flexible than tapestry work, whose legitimacy has never been questioned. And it is tied to no formal stitch; it's as free and supple as oils, aquarelle or pastel—what more could one ask?" (Georgiana Harbeson Brown,
It was during her time in England—and thanks to Morrell—that Stoll met Elizabeth "Bessie" Morison (1886-1945), wife of historian Samuel Eliot Morison, then a professor of American History at Oxford. Stoll and the Morisons developed a close relationship, detailed in this collection, that would last for many years.
In 1928 Stoll left Oxford for Paris. Then, due to mounting financial difficulties, she moved to Greece in 1933. Stoll explained to Morison that "we're all at the mercy of the crisis and mine isn't the only career ruined by a long shot." But amid the Great Depression, life in Greece proved costly as well, so—likely at the urging of Elizabeth Morison—Stoll returned to the United States in 1935. Demoralized, despondent at having to leave Europe without her wools, facing a bleak economic future, Stoll relied on the Morisons for moral and financial support. They paid the costs to have her wools and belongings shipped from Europe to the United States and found her housing in Connecticut. Despite these initial difficulties, Stoll's fortunes did improve. Through Alexander Woollcott, an old acquaintance from Garsington House, she was introduced to Eleanor Butler Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Eleanor was an avid embroider and an admirer of Stoll's work, which she first encountered in Woollcott's New York City apartment. As a result of the meeting an exhibit was organized at the Arden Galleries in New York. Stoll later reported to Morison that the show was "a huge success," with large and enthusiastic crowds. Stoll sold a number of works, and subsequently wrote to Morison that "there will be enough to get me out of the red." In 1939 her career received an additional boost when she was asked by the Society of Designers and Craftsmen to display her work at the New York World's Fair.
Stoll's professional life expanded in subsequent years. In addition to continuing work on her embroidery, she wrote articles about her art and artistic expression for publications like
With two exceptions, the 102 personal letters making up this collection were directed by Marian Stoll to Elizabeth Morison between January 1928 and July 1938. They were written from 1) France (41 letters, March 1928 to October 1933; 2) Greece (22 letters, November 1933 to September 1935; and 3) Connecticut (38 letters, October 1935 to July 1938. They are densely written, and are primarily concerned with Stoll's own personal, financial, and professional affairs. Among the topics commonly raised are: her art dealings, including the difficulties she faced earning a living from her art, and the impact of the Depression on her finances and lifestyle; her health and illnesses; and literature and theater of the day. She also describes current political and military events, some personally witnessed, as well as descriptions of the places she lived in or visited. The letters are very conversational, even gossipy, with much discussion of the whereabouts and activities of friends and acquaintances. Persons most frequently mentioned include Samuel Eliot Morison, mutual friends Julian and Juliette Huxley, and Alexander Woollcott. The two additional letters include one written by Stoll to Samuel Eliot Morison (7 May 1935), and another written by an unidentified author to Elizabeth Morison.
The letters are arranged chronologically, with multiple items per folder.
Other letters written by Marian Stoll are contained in the Alexander Woollcott Correspondence (MS Am 1449) at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, and in the Ottoline Morrell Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.