Finding Aid to the Hernando G. Villa Collection MS.565

Finding aid prepared by Anna Liza Posas
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA, 90065-5030

Title: Hernando G. Villa Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS.565
Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 1.5 Linear feet (1 document box, 1 oversized portfolio box)
Date: 1894-1972
Abstract: Hernando Gonzalo Villa (born 1881, died 1952) was a prominent commercial artist and muralist whose work primarily depicted Native Americans, Mexican vaqueros, California missions, Spanish colonialists, and coastal views. This collection consists of the a sketch book, personal papers, ephemera, photographs, and publications related to Hernando Villa, his artwork, and his family. The material in this collection was created from 1894 to 1972.
creator: Villa, Hernando Gonzalo, 1881-1952

Biographical note

Hernando Gonzalo Villa (born 1881, died 1952) was a prominent commercial artist and muralist whose work primarily depicted Native Americans, Mexican vaqueros, California missions, Spanish colonialists, and coastal views.
Villa was born in Los Angeles to Esiquia and Miguel de Villa. His parents came to Los Angeles as children from Baja California in 1846 when the area was still part of Mexico. Villa was born in an adobe at what is now the corner of 6th and Spring streets in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Los Angeles School of Art and Design in 1905. Villa established himself as a commercial artist in his native Los Angeles, illustrating magazines including the Pasadena Daily News, The West Coast Magazine, and Town Talk, as well as a variety of artwork ranging from sheet music covers to newspaper advertisements, and a poster for the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.
Villa created the bookplate for Joseph Amasa Munk’s Library of Arizoniana at the request of Charles F. Lummis who notes this is in his personal journal on 1910 February 7. Villa also created advertising art for the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Los Angeles Limited, and the Santa Fe Railway. He enjoyed a forty year relationship with the Santa Fe for which he created some of his best known images including the Santa Fe Chief emblem.
In addition to commercial print work, Villa also executed easel paintings throughout his career which he showed primarily in California. He worked in oil, watercolor, pastel, and charcoal. His most frequent subjects were Native Americans, Mexican vaqueros, California missions, Spanish colonialists, and coastal views. Villa was also a celebrated muralist who created murals for Tally’s New Broadway Theater in Los Angeles in 1916, the New Rialto Theater in Phoenix in 1921, and Citizen Bank in Los Angeles in 1926. Villa won a gold medal for a mural exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915.
Cook, A. M. Los Angeles Times, undated.


  • Series 1: Artwork, circa 1903-1930
  • Series 2: Newspaper clippings, 1912-1945
  • Series 3: Personal papers and manuscripts, 1894-1972
  • Series 4: Photographs, circa 1900 - 1950


Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit or contact library staff at An item-level inventory is available from library staff.

Preferred citation

Hernando G. Villa Collection, 1894-1972, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.565; [folder number] [folder title][date].

Processing history

Biographical note created by Maritxu de Alaiza, 2012 April 5. Processing and finding aid completed by Anna Liza Posas, 2013. Publication of finding aid made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Santa Fe Railroad.
Schmid, Rudi, Ph.D., Dean, 1983
Southern Pacific Railroad Company.
Artists -- United States
Indians in art
Sales catalogs
Sheet music
Star of Taos and Juan
West (U.S.) -- In art


Artwork Series 1: circa 1903-1930


Magazines and newspapers covers featuring Villa's artwork 1903-1929, undated

Box 1, Folder MS.565.1.1

Town Talk magazine cover 1903 July

Administrative History note

Town Talk magazine was a monthly illustrated "journal-magazine" that circulates to Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Pasadena.

Scope and Contents note

Cover is from the half-yearly edition and provides information about the artwork and Villa.
Box 2, Folder MS.565.30.1

Pasadena Daily News mast head and artwork 1908

Box 1, Folder MS.565.1.2

Rio Grande Review magazine cover 1929 August

Scope and Contents note

Published by the Rio Grande Oil Company. Back of cover includes information about the artwork and Hernando Villa.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.1.3

The West Coast magazine cover undated

Scope and Contents note

Cover is from a November issue, no year is included.

Drawings 1905, undated

Box 1, Folder MS.565.2.1

Anatomy drawing done by memory 1905

Scope and Contents note

Inscription on drawing reads: "copy of Villa's prize winning drawing from memory 1905."
Box 1, Folder MS.565.2.2

Art clippings undated

Scope and Contents note

Includes pieces cut and pasted on to sheet of paper. One images includes Villa's drawing of the Los Angeles School of Art and Design.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.3

Los Angeles School of Art and Design prospectus circa 1916-1917

Scope and Contents note

Hernando Villa is listed as faculty. Prospectus cover designed by Villa.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.4

Santa Fe Railroad promotional material and greeting card circa 1930

Scope and Contents note

Artwork includes scenes of Hopi Indians.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.5

"Star of Taos and Juan" 1936

Scope and Contents note

Christmas story by Natolia O'Neil. Hand-bound booklet with cover art by Villa
Box 1, Folder MS.565.6

Harold L. Arnold advertisement the "New Maxwell" motor car undated

Scope and Contents note

Victorola advertisement on other side of sheet.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.7

Salt Lake Route advertisements undated

Scope and Contents note

One advertisement features a sketch for the "Los Angeles Limited" train.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.8

Santa Fe Railroad "Blossom Time" ad poster and image undated

Scope and Contents note

Advertisement has artwork by Villa of a Chinese woman with caricature type features. Folder also icludes 8" x 10" image of just the artwork, without the ad copy.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.9

Southern Pacific advertisements undated

Box 1, Folder MS.565.10

Photographs of Villa's painting undated

Scope and Contents note

Images in this folder are of paintings that depict Native American portraits and scenes; men and women in Spanish costume; and Madonna and child.

Newspaper clippings Series 2: 1912-1945

Box 1, Folder MS.565.11

Newspaper clippings about Hernando Villa and his artwork 1912, 1935


Newspaper clippings about Hernando Villa and his artwork 1924-1945

Box 2, Folder MS.565.30.2

Illustrated Daily News 1924 June 11

Scope and Contents note

This news story includes an image of Hernando Villa with his niece, Gertrude Villa. Gertrude is posing for painting, dressed in a Spanish costume. According to the caption, the painting was to be part of "Noche Espana," a Spanish program by the Gamut Club that featured an exhibit of paintings.
Box 2, Folder MS.565.30.3

"International Artists' Club plans 'night of all natives," Evening Herald 1924 November 7

Scope and Contents note

Article includes a drawing of "pen impressions of notables in the International Artists' Club contributing to the organization's big American day fete." Villa is included in the drawing.
Box 2, Folder MS.565.30.4

"Clearwater School in news spotlight," Long Beach Press Telegram 1938 March 30

Scope and Contents note

Story covers the art exhibit at Clearwater Junior High. Includes an image of winning painting done by Villa, titled "Shepard of Acoma."
Box 2, Folder MS.565.30.5

"Noted local artist to paint again" by Stephen Romayne, Westlake Post 1945 July 13

Scope and Contents note

Article is about the pin-up art Villa created and dedicated to the "all the service men."

Personal papers and manuscripts Series 3: 1894-1972


Music material 1894, 1931

Box 1, Folder MS.565.12.1

Lyrics and music to "49" by Leila France 1894

Scope and Contents note

Lyrics by Joaquin Miller and words by Leila France. Back of sheet stamped "from the George Wharton James collection."
Box 1, Folder MS.565.12.2

List of musicians and lyrics to Spanish Folk Songs 1931 July 10

Scope and Contents note

List of musicians include Lucida Hernandes, Ascension Rocha, Hernando G. Villa, and Rosendo Uruchutu. The lyrics are to the song "El Capotin."
Box 1, Folder MS.565.12.3

Sixth grade report card and certificate of advancement 1895, undated

Scope and Contents note

Report card is undated. Certificate of Advancement is from 1895 February 8 and has "13 years old" written on top of document. Both documents are from the Los Angeles City Schools, Ninth Street School.

Correspondence 1910-1951

Box 1, Folder MS.565.14.1

Envelope addressed to Hernando Villa from Charles F. Lummis postmarked 1910 December 29

Scope and Contents note

Envelope in poor condition and includes "Munk Library of Arizoniana" bookplate.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.14.2

Correspondence from "James S." to Hernando Villa 1929 September 9

Scope and Contents note

Correspondence written on embroidered postcard that says "Mil Felcidades."
Box 1, Folder MS.565.14.3

Correspondence, from Chief George White Wing to Hernando Villa 1951 January 5

Scope and Contents note

Letter sent from Dancy, Wisoncsin

Exhibit Material 1934-1939

Box 1, Folder MS.565.15.1

Invitation to Hernando G. Villa art exhibit 1934

Scope and Contents note

Invitation includes line images of various artwork by Villa. Event presented by "Senor U.S Royar" of Royars frame shop in Los Angeles.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.15.2

Business card of John A. Williams, Agent-Owner of the "Hernando G. Villa Art Exhibit" circa 1934

Box 1, Folder MS.565.15.1

Catalog to the "Sixth Annual Exhibit of Paintings at Clearwater Junior High", Clearwater, California 1939

Scope and Contents note

Exhibit was in 1939 from March 14 - 28. Catalog includes image of Villa's 1938 painting, "The Shepherd of Acoma."

Photographs Series 4:  circa 1900-1950

Box 1, Folder MS.565.20

Portrait of Villa 1905

Scope and Contents note

Caption reads "Villa at 24."
Box 1, Folder MS.565.21

Villa family early 1900's

Scope and Contents note

One image of Villa Family of Hernando with siblings Ernesto, Noe, Luisia, and Rosa and father Miguel Villa and mother Esiquia Asevedo DeVilla.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.22

Tally's New Broadway Theatre mural 1916

Scope and Contents note

Includes five images of Hernando Villa and artwork, "Primavera" or "Spring," he painted for the theatre.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.23

Hernando Villa 1917

Scope and Contents note

Three copies of the image are included. Caption on one image reads, "Villa at 36."
Box 1, Folder MS.565.24

New Rialto Theatre, Los Angeles, California 1921

Scope and Contents note

This folder includes four images of Hernando Villa and sketch for the dome of the Rialto Theatre in Phoenix Arizona.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.25

Citizen Bank mural, Los Angeles, California 1926

Scope and Contents note

Folder includes an image of Villa in front of mural and images of different sections of the mural.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.26

Villa at the Grand Canyon, Arizona 1930

Box 1, Folder MS.565.27

Hernando Villa 1946 November 6

Scope and Contents note

Folder includes images of Villa in front of an unidentified mural and Villa painting on easel.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.28

Villa and family circa 1950

Scope and Contents note

This folder includes four images. Two images are of Villa with his brothers and sisters Hernando, Noe, Rose, Louise and Ernesto. One image includes Villa with siblings and 2 unidentified people. Another image is of Louise and Rose Villa taken on Christmas Day, 1950.
Box 1, Folder MS.565.29

Images of Villa early to mid 1900's

Scope and Contents note

This folder includes undated and unidentified images of Villa. In some images he is posing in front of artwork. Folder also includes images of Villa in a Spanish matador costume and other images in Native American clothing and headdress.