Nicola D'Ascenzo //
Stained glass artist, muralist, painter.
Taught Mural Decoration, 1892-93, 1894.
Married Myrtle Dell Goodwin, a PMSIA alumna who joined the faculty as a teacher of applied design in 1886 (source: PMSIA Annual Report for the Year Ending December 31, 1886, p. 9) and stayed until 1894 (PMSIA Annual Report for the Year Ending December 31, 1894, p. 19).
D'Ascenzo's stained glass work can be seen in the Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge, PA; the Folger-Shakespeare Library and the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC; Riverside Church, New York, NY; and several college and university chapels, including Yale and Princeton. But for Philadelphians (as well as anyone crossing the Delaware River on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge) perhaps the most familiar work is the "Nipper" window in one of the old RCA-Victor buildings in Camden, NJ, now refurbished as a luxury apartment building, The Victor.
Although D'Ascenzo's name does not appear in any annual reports or commencement programs for having earned any of the certificates offered by the school, he appears in the Roll of Students, 1891-92 in the PMSIA catalog for 1892-93, and in the Roll of Students, 1892-93 in the PMSIA catalog for 1893-94. In the quote below he is named as an alumnus of the school:
"Through the co-operation [sic] of the Philadelphia Association of Master Painters and Decorators, which as appointed a permanent advisory committee to assist us, an Evening School of Decorative Painting was established on the 1st of October .
Mr. Nicola D'Ascenzo, a decorator of much ability and who had been educated in our own School, was appointed instructor, and room was found for the new class to begin its work in the building on Buttonwood Street. The class proved to be very popular, and twenty-nine pupils were enrolled soon after the announcement, so that the need of larger quarters is now more urgent in the case of this class than of that of any other in the School."Source: Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. Seventeenth Annual Report for the Year Ending December 31, 1892, page 13.
It is noted on page 19 of the 19th annual report for the year ending December 31, 1894, that D'Ascenzo has resigned to spend some years abroad (as has Miss Goodwin), and Maxfield Parrish will take over D'Ascenzo's position in the class of Mural Decoration.
In the PMSIA catalog for 1897-98 a "Partial List of Former Students of the School with Their Occupations" appears in the back, listing D'Ascenzo as "Decorator and Designer, Philadelphia." This listing for D'Ascenzo is maintained through the 1906-07 catalog. With the 1907-08 catalog, the alumni were listed under their professions instead of alphabetically, and D'Ascenzo is listed under "Interior Decorators." This listing is the same for him through the 1921-22 catalog, the last year that alumni and their professions were listed in the catalog.
For more information on D'Ascenzo please consult the following sources.
D'Ascenzo : The Art of Stained Glass from the Collection of Stanley Switlik. Rider College, Trenton, N.J., Student Center Gallery, September 20 to October 24, 1973.
Stained Glass : A Guide to Information Sources / Darlene A. Brady, William Serban. Detroit : Gale Research, c1980.
Who's Who in American Art : A Biographical Directory of Selected Contemporary American Artists... / Alice Coe McLaughlin, editor. Volume II, 1938-39. Published November 15, 1937, by the American Federation of Arts, Washington, D. C., U. S. A.
Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975 : 400 Years of Artists in America / editor-in-chief Peter Hastings Falk. Madison, CT : Sound View Press, 1999.
Who's Who and Who Was Who show that D'Ascenzo was a member of numerous art clubs and organizations in Philadelphia and in Massachusetts, where he spent his summers. Those organizations included: Fairmount Park Art Association; Philadelphia Society of Etchers; National Society of Mural Painters; Philadelphia Art Alliance; Rockport Art Association; Arts and Crafts Guild of Philadelphia; and the Alumni Association of PMSIA.
A good online source is D'Ascenzo's entry in the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Web site (an excellent site for Philadelphia architectural research!). Within the site search by architect for D'Ascenzo and you will find D'Ascenzo himself and a separate entry for D'Ascenzo Studios. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia has the archives of the D'Ascenzo Studios. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia Library requires that you make advance appointments for research. Please contact the Athenaeum directly.
Questions? Please read the paragraph on requests for archival information.
Send questions or remarks about this page to Sara MacDonald, Public Services Librarian.
Last updated 01/02/2006 sjm