Last week we looked at several early “lost” works of Schmitt. There is also a trove of imaginative paintings from the 1920s—among them Schmitt’s most acclaimed works—whose owners and locations remain unknown.
Muses on the Mount, 1921 — The first of a series of “muse” paintings which includes Muses on in the Valley (1921) and Muses Marooned (two versions, 1934 and 1936). The painting, along with Dalmatian Mother and another unlocated work, Cafe, Chartres, was sent to Mrs. Julius Goldman, whose father-in-law was the founder of Goldman Sachs. It is not known if Mrs. Goldman purchased the work.
Temples Unfinished, 1921 (oil and Hawthorne medium, 25 x 30 in.) — One of a number of paintings inspired by the artist’s love for Rome and its architecture (others include Esto Perpetua and Schmitt’s depictions of the palace of Septimius Severus), this work was shown at the Carnegie International in 1921, and in 1923 at the National Academy in New York. It also figured prominently in a three-man show in Silvermine in the summer of 1924, one of the first hosted by the new Silvermine Guild of Artists.
From that Silvermine show the painting was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Walter S. Poor of New Canaan, Connecticut. The Poors were one of Schmitt’s most loyal local patrons at the time, purchasing no less than seven works from the artist between 1922 and 1924. Their collection of Schmitts included the lovely pastel Peach Blossoms, later given to the New Canaan Historical Society and shown at an exhibition of the artist’s works there in 2011.
Land of Efthil, 1922 (30 x 36 in.) — First exhibited at the Carnegie International in 1922, no photograph or detailed description exists for this curiously-titled work. A critic from the Christian Science Monitor described it and Temples Unfinished as “tranquil transcripts of antique themes.”
A Gift of Fruit, 1926 (below) — A masterpiece of Schmitt’s tapestry style, this painting was shown at the 25th Carnegie International exhibition in 1926 and sold the next year from a show at Art Institute of Chicago. The last known owner was Mr. Harold Janisch, a Boston banker, in 1944. The New York Evening Post described it as “a vast web of color holding forms in its tapestried pattern, yet for all its flaming tones subdued to its unity of design.”
A Picnic, 1927 (oil on canvas, 35 x 42 in.) — One of Schmitt’s best known works at the time, A Picnic was shown at numerous national and international exhibitions before being purchased by Arthur Judson, manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Judson lent it to the Century of Progress exhibition at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, but there has been no trace of it since then.
According to a critic in the New York Times, the painting “hints remotely at some prescribed rite, an implication all the more appealing that it is so woven with the material of daily life.” The review offers perceptive remarks on Schmitt’s treatment of the figures and tress in the background, a feature noted by other critics.
“It depends almost wholly upon the interesting treatment of the framework in which the episode is placed, but this framework follows a fashion of modern theatre borrowed from a long past century, the fashion of bringing the stage into the body of the theatre and letting the actors in among the audience. Gothic arches are formed from the branches of tall, sleek trees, the foliage forming a rich ornament like that surrounding the porches and windows of medieval cathedrals. The background figures stand within these arches or advance through them, and in the foreground other figures are seated at the little feast, while children and dogs play and take natural, funny attitudes that perfectly fulfill the design.”
A Christening Party at Chartres, 1928 (oil on canvas, 45 x 54 in.) (see image above) — One of many works inspired by Schmitt’s stay in Chartres, France 1926-27, a reviewer called it a “golden gaiety,” “one of those pictures which make you long to be in the place depicted.” The painting was first exhibited at the 27th Carnegie International exhibition in late 1928, after which it was purchased by the Pittsburgh Athletic Association. A search by the Foundation in the PAA’s headquarters in was unsuccessful.
The location of a very similar painting, Dance of Life, Chartres, was also unknown until its owner contacted the Foundation in 2011.
The Second Night, 1929 (oil on canvas, 48 x 40 in.) — This enigmatic painting, first shown at the Carnegie International exhibition in 1929, was seen in cities across the country in the next 7 years. It was owned by Schmitt’s patron John Kenneth Byard in 1936 (who lent it to a show in Dallas that year), but was not among the artworks given by Byard to his alma mater Hartwick College in 1950.
Asked by a curator at the St. Louis Museum of Art about the “meaning” of the painting, Schmitt responded, “As I am reluctant to inflict mystical implications upon what is largely an extroverted public, I thought it best only to imply through the title the idea of the ‘second night of the soul’ and to allow the beholder to make his own story.”
If you own any work by Carl Schmitt, or wonder if the painting, pastel or etching you own may be one of his works, we would be delighted to hear from you! We are especially interested in works not found in the CSF website’s online gallery.