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Cady Wells Correspondence

Identifier: MSS-462-BC

Scope and Content

Cady Wells and Chester Somers became friends while both were stationed at Camp Edwards (Mass.) in 1942. They maintained their friendship after the war and corresponded until Wells' death.

The collection consists of those letters retained by Somers as well as two photos and an exhibit flyer that were enclosed in letters. The bulk of the letters cover the army years. They give some insight into Wells' personal character, how he felt about serving in the army and his reactions to world events.


  • 1942-1952

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.


Henry Cady Wells was born November 15, 1904 into a wealthy family in Massachusetts. He received a private education, was artistically inclined, but had trouble deciding on a direction. He spent time in the Western United States. Impressed with the landscapes, Wells decided to settle in the West and capture his impressions on canvas.

In 1932 he began to study with Andrew Dasburg in Santa Fe. He developed a preference for working with watercolors and was influenced by Raymond Jonson and Georgia O'Keeffe as well as Dasburg. Wells became known nationally for his striking watercolor landscapes of the desert Southwest. His bold brush strokes are reminiscent of the Japanese brush painting he studied briefly while on tour in the Orient.

With his brother Mason, Wells bought an old adobe home in Jacona, New Mexico. It was then remodeled and restored under the direction of John Gaw Meem. He collected Spanish Colonial art including santos, bultos and retablos, most of which he later donated to the Museum of New Mexico. Wells was well known along the Espanola Valley for his philanthropy, giving money to needy families and supplies and scholarships to struggling artists.

Wells enlisted in the army in 1941. Leaving the art world behind, and serving as a sergeant (he was not interested in higher rank) he was known as 'Hank' to his army buddies. He applied for overseas duty and was stationed in England; after the Normandy invasion he was sent to France and Belgium, where he hid old books and works of art in an effort to save them from destruction.

After returning to the U.S. in 1945 he resumed painting. He traveled often in the Western U.S., returned to France twice to tour and study, visited the Carribean and established studios in St. Croix, The Virgin Islands and Taos, New Mexico. Returning often to his home in Jacona, he served on the Board of Directors of the School of American Research and helped establish the Jonson Gallery, University of New Mexico. He died of a heart attack in Santa Fe on November 5, 1954.


1 box (.25 cu. ft.)


Notes on the Wells home in Jacona, N.M.

Related Material

John Gaw Meem Papers. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Notes on the Wells home in Jacona, N.M. Cady Wells Papers, 1913-1968.Archives of American Art. Microfilm rolls 1304-1309

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to the Cady Wells Photograph Collection.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Boyd, E. "Cady Wells, 1904-1954." El Palacio LXI (November 1954): 374-376.
  • Duncan, Kate. "Corbin Cady Wells: the Personal Vision." Unpublished masters thesis, University of New Mexico, 1967.
  • Wells, Cady. Cady Wells, a Retrospective Exhibition. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Art Museum, 1967
Finding aid of the Cady Wells Correspondence, 1942-1952
Processed by Center for Southwest Research Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 462 BC::Cady Wells Correspondence)//EN" "nmu1mss462bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131