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Stendahl Art Galleries Records: Guillermo Echániz Correspondence

Selected Correspondence

Selected Correspondence between Earl Stendahl and Guillermo Echániz

There are three folders associated with Guillermo Echániz in the Stendahl Art Galleries Records (2017.M.38, box 11, folders 7-9), which together contain upwards of 300 pages of documentation, largely ranging in date from 1938 to 1957. While most of these documents are correspondence between Earl Stendahl (and later Alfred Stendahl, Earl’s son) and Guillermo Echániz, also included are invoices and promissory notes, object and price lists, and occasional communication with other interlocutors. At least 44 documents, dated 1940–1949, relate to Teotihuacan, with the overwhelming majority being letters that address murals (variously called frescoes, painted walls, decorated walls, paintings on plaster, panels, etc.) and plans to extract murals and other pre-Hispanic objects from this expansive site on a much larger scale. Ten such letters have been selected for this Research Guide because they reveal details of the looted murals’ place of discovery, when and how Echániz and Stendahl removed them from the site and from Mexico​​, and how other individuals may have assisted or sought to impede their efforts.

The selection opens in late October 1940, just over a year into WWII, with Earl Stendahl struggling to piece together a single looted mural. The selection then follows Stendahl and Echániz as they navigate the logistical, financial, and legal implications of trafficking in murals, while also developing their inventory of, and client base for, a vast array of pre-Hispanic objects, and grappling with questions of authenticity and constraints on capital. The final letter in the selection is from early January 1942, and closes with Stendahl confirming his interest in Echániz’s proposal for an expanded operation at Teotihuacan. This selection also includes a rich cast of collectors, archaeologists, museum professionals, artists, farmers, government officials, diplomats, celebrities, and others, with many individuals embodying more than one role. Taken as a whole, these selected letters situate Stendahl and Echániz within a dynamic international and intercultural milieu and illustrate the early evolution of their long-term partnership.

Notes on Transcriptions

  • Original spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word order are retained in the transcriptions.
  • Handwritten additions to typed documents are indicated with braces {}.
  • Font styles in the original text, including underlined, bolded, or italicized words, are not indicated in the transcriptions.
  • Text that was crossed out in the original document is indicated with a strikethrough in the transcriptions. 
  • Where typed characters overlap in the original, only the characters which appear to correct misspellings or other errors are transcribed.
  • Paragraph breaks in the original text have been maintained in the transcribed text, but line breaks and indentations have not.