Song of the Nightingale


Joseph Stella ( American, 1877 - 1946 )

c. 1917
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General Description

Simple curving, branching forms dividing the composition indicate Joseph Stella's allegiance to the principles of abstraction. At the same time, they contain a powerfully personal meaning for the artist, as they give visual form to his childhood memories of the sound of a singing nightingale transforming the sleeping Italian countryside. The artist explored this theme in several subsequent works throughout his career.

Born in Italy, Joseph Stella moved to New York at age nineteen. Although he initially painted scenes of urban life in a manner similar to that of the Ashcan school artists, he was transformed by the dynamic abstraction of European modernism, which he encountered on a return trip to Italy in 1910-11.

Excerpt from

William Keyse Rudolph, DMA label text, 2005

Web Resources

The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Read a biography of Joseph Stella from the Phillips Collection.