Question of the Week
What organization was founded in Philadelphia in 1931 as an association of Italian American artists?
Answer: Da Vinci Art Alliance
More than 80 years ago, 17 Italian American artists, writers, and musicians in Philadelphia formed a group called the Da Vinci Art Alliance. The Alliance, named after famed Italian Leonardo da Vinci, was founded in 1931 to promote friendship among artists, actively participate in the arts in Philadelphia, foster art appreciation, and help up-and-coming artists. Glass artist Nicola D'Ascenzo was chosen as the Alliance’s first president. He immigrated to the United States in 1882 and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. The Alliance was originally open only to individuals of Italian descent; however, after World War II, the Alliance began to welcome anyone with an interest in the arts.
The Alliance ran meetings out of its artists’ studios until it secured its headquarters at 704 Catherine Street in South Philadelphia in the late 1960s. In keeping with its founding notions, the non-profit Alliance continues to serve the Delaware Valley community throughout the year with numerous programs, lectures, exhibitions of member and nonmember artwork, and other social events. In the early years the Alliance held events like the “Comic Strip Artist’s Ball,” and now it participates in contemporary events including the Fringe Festival.
HSP's collection of Da Vinci Art Alliance records (#3226) contains bylaws, correspondence, minutes, programs and other printed materials, financial records, and membership materials.
Image: Da Vinci Art Alliance Comic Strip Artist's Ball program (1948)
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.