Carl Schmitt (1889-1989) was an extraordinary American artist. In his work he combined the weight and substance of the European masters with the light and color of the Impressionists to create mesmerizing portraits, luminous still lifes, and profound religious works found in museums and private collections around the world. More than an outstanding artist, Schmitt pondered deeply and wrote articulately about what he was striving to achieve in his art. In the words of critic Terry Teachout, Schmitt had “the eye of a Cézanne and the mind of a Maritain.”
Schmitt’s life encompassed eighty years as a professional painter. Born in Warren, Ohio, in 1889, Schmitt studied art under Emil Carlsen in New York and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy. After serving in the Army in World War I, Schmitt married Gertrude Lord in 1918 and settled in the artists’ colony of Silvermine, Connecticut. Here he lived and worked for the remainder of his life, helping to establish the Silvermine Guild of Artists in 1922. Although his early work was widely exhibited and acclaimed by critics, in the early 1930s Schmitt decided to devote himself more exclusively to his art and to his family of ten children. Sustained by a devoted wife, profound convictions, and a deep piety, Schmitt bore the poverty of the Depression and a disabling tuberculosis with unassuming heroism. He continued to paint and write in relative isolation for nearly fifty years, stopping only a few months before his death at the age of 100 on October 25, 1989.
The Carl Schmitt Foundation, established in 1996, seeks to make better known Schmitt’s achievements as an outstanding man, an extraordinary fine artist, and profound thinker on aesthetics and life. The Foundation maintains a gallery of Schmitt’s works and preserves an extensive archives of his papers. It strives to disseminate his unique vision through a biennial newsletter, a comprehensive website, a monthly e-newsletter, numerous articles—both in journals and online—and by means of lectures, exhibitions, and other public presentations.
In 2013 the Foundation published Carl Schmitt: The Vision of Beauty, a coffee-table book featuring forty of Schmitt’s most stunning paintings. It is available from the Foundation. The Foundation’s website may be found at http://www.carlschmitt.org. The Conscience of Beauty, a collection of Schmitt’s penetrating essays on a variety of subjects, was published by the Foundation in 2016. It is available through amazon.com.
This blog was created by Samuel Schmitt, Executive Director of the CSF and a grandson of the artist.