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The Stephen L. Wolf Collection

A Significant Collection of Books on American Arts

Collecting and connoisseurship often begin at home, and sometimes result in profound significance and generosity. Long-time friend of Historic Deerfield, Stephen Wolf of New York City, grew up in and later operated the family paint business, founded in 1869.

But instead of turning to other interests in his spare time, Steve built the premier, private library on the topics of paint, varnish, and color theory dating from the 16th century onward—some 1,500 titles. When Steve passed away in June 2008, he made his long-promised bequest of the library to Historic Deerfield. His generosity, joined by that of his wife Mary and son Matthew, assures in perpetuity the public relevance of his library—and places Historic Deerfield’s reference and rare book collection in this field at the pinnacle of research interest.

Highlights of the collection include:  Lomazzo’s A Tracte Containing the Artes of Curious Paintinge Carvinge Buildinge Written first in Italian…and Englished by  [Richard Haydocke] …(Oxford: 1598), Stalker and Parker’s A Treatise of Japaning &  Varnishing  (Oxford:1688), and Jones’ Grammar of Ornament (London: 1856). Many of the most beautiful books, given the topics of color and paint, were published during the latter half of the 19th century. They join other important titles with focused interest on New England, like the edition of Marcet’s Conversations on Chemistry … published in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in 1818, and Rufus Porter’s A New Collection of Genuine Receipts for the Preparation and Execution of Curious Arts …Dying  (Boston: 1831).

The Wolf Collection is available to researchers interested in fine art, interior decoration, carriage painting, japanning, color theory, wall treatments, dyeing, enameling, glazing, theatrical set design, art restoration, varnishes, gilding, and the manufacture of paint.  It is housed in the Joseph Peter Spang III Special Collections Room in the Memorial Libraries.