Portrait of the Artist as a Family Man

A guest post by CSF Creative Director Andrew de Sa.

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The Schmitt family on the porch of their home, c. 1934. Left to right: John, Carl, Jr., Michael, Carl with Gertrude in his lap, David, Robert, Gertrude with Christopher in her lap, Austin, Peter, and Jacob (sitting).

One of the initial intriguing facts I learned about Carl Schmitt was that he and his wife Gertrude lovingly raised a family of ten children.  This seeming contradiction of being both a dedicated artist and dedicated family man fascinated me.  Soon after discovering Schmitt’s work I had the privilege of meeting three of the artist’s children, Carl Jr., Robert, and Gertrude, all of whom rounded out my understanding of Schmitt not only as a brilliant artist and original thinker but also as a devoted father.  All three children echoed the sentiment that their father’s commitment to his craft was a foundational element of the spirit of their family and in fact of each of their individual lives.  As the artist’s son Jacob beautifully recounts:

Just as Schmitt’s values, feelings, aesthetic temperament, and deep Faith were committed to painting, these same values, feelings, and commitments permeated all his activities – his marriage, his family and the relationships he had with his friends. If he offered few immediate material rewards, he offered what was the ‘better part.’ This was something each child learned from his father and something not one of them would trade for the entire world with its superficial and passing comforts.”

—Dr. Jacob  Schmitt, The Grandeur of Beauty


Three Children with Toys, c. 1926, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 in.

Carl Schmitt understood that the sharing of this “better part” lay in his own attainment of virtue through the cooperation of his destiny as a painter, often at the expense of material prosperity.  Carl and Gertrude regularly welcomed artists, writers, and musicians into their home on Borglum Road.  These individuals, many of whom lacked tight-knit families of their own, were often greatly moved by the experience.  Describing one such visit to the artist’s home, journalist Donald Powell wrote:

I have eaten with the Schmitts and seen the youngsters in their bunks, one on top of the other, shipwise.  I have seen them at play.  I envy and love the whole flock of them . . . dirty faces, dirty diapers and all.  There is love within this family; it was built on love and survives through love.”  —D. Powell, The Catholic Worker, 1934

pen on paper, March 5, 1924

Carl Schmitt would describe his vocation as being that of the peasant, namely one who whose end in life is to raise a family.  Many, of course, share in this vocation; I myself just got married two months ago.  Schmitt’s life, especially understood through the lens of his children, has caused me to reflect on whether I might better prioritize the “better part.”

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Carl Schmitt with his daughter Gertrude on the porch of their home in Silvermine, c. 1935.

“Carl Schmitt’s Enduring Vision of Beauty” at Aleteia.org

The popular website Aleteia recently interviewed CSF president Samuel Schmitt on his grandfather’s art, life and enduring legacy.


Self-portrait, c. 1965, oil on hardboard, 18 x 15 in.

“It’s difficult to imagine anyone having a clearer idea of his calling in life than Carl Schmitt.”

The Catholic Artist Carl Schmitt’s Enduring Vision of Beauty

New book, Silvermine, now available at 50% off


A new pictorial history of Silvermine, the place Carl Schmitt called home for 70 years, is now available for pre-order at 50% off. As part of their “Cyber Monday” sale, Arcadia Publishing is offering the discount today and tomorrow only (now through Wednesday, November 30, 2016).


Through dozens of historic photographs the book tells the story of the picturesque valley from the time it buzzed with sawmills through the coming of the artists who transformed it into the artistic hub we know and love today.


There’s something about Silvermine. When the Schmitt boys found arrowheads while playing along the rock ridges and the river, their father Carl would say, “Of course, the Indians know all the good places.” This view down Borglum Road toward the Silvermine River bridge with Carl Schmitt’s house on the right looks much the same today as it did when this photograph was taken almost a century ago.

The book highlights the families of the artists and the life they made together, especially Carl and Gertrude Schmitt and their extended family—her father Austin Lord and Carl’s brother Robert, who, along with Solon Borglum, were instrumental in the formation of the Silvermine Group of Artists in 1908. The group later became the Silvermine Guild of Artists, which endures to this day.


Some of you may recognize this large boulder in front of the old Borglum place on Borglum Road, site of many birthday parties and other get-togethers in Silvermine over the years. Through fascinating images such as this, the new book captures Silvermine’s rich social, artistic, and cultural life during the heyday of the artists’ colony in the first half of the last century.

The stories of the Silvermine Tavern (where Spencer Tracy was a frequent guest and Lauren Bacall spent her ‘babymoon’ in 1949), the Buttery Mill (the oldest mill in the US when it closed in the 1950s), and the great flood of 1955 round out the narrative.silvermine-interior-page-spread-118-119

Part of the well-known “Images of America” series from Arcadia Publishing, many of the photographs come from the archives of the Carl Schmitt Foundation as well as historical societies and individuals in the area.

This offer is good today and tomorrow only (Tuesday and Wednesday, November 29 and 30, 2016).  You won’t see a better price.

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Samuel A. Schmittt


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New book Carl Schmitt: The Conscience of Beauty now for sale!

Until now, you have read short “tweets” of Carl Schmitt’s thoughts on this blog.  Now, the CSF is pleased to announce the publication of the unfiltered Carl Schmitt in a new collection of his writings, The Conscience of Beauty.

The Conscience of Beauty  collects over seventy of Schmitt’s essays,  most appearing now for the first time.  With a foreword by the artist’s son Jacob, and edited and introduced by CSF director Samuel Schmitt, this 222-page volume can be binge-read in an evening, or taken up from time to time as a leisurely formation in the conscience of beauty.

cob-sample-pages-2Schmitt wryly observes in the first essay that when the artist puts down his brushes to speak, “his muse is displeased at the digression” and “he is perilously close to talking rubbish.”  But this collection reveals a man whose words on paper are at least as remarkable as his work on canvas.

The man who can both paint and write without displeasing his muse is rarely found, but to live and paint and write is given only to the few.cob-sample-pages-1In these short essays Schmitt has gathered and distilled the fruits of his contemplation over a long lifetime. Alongside practical advice on getting through the dull times of life and helpful observations on the good of squabbling siblings stand sharp fragments on the uttermost reaches of the four last things and piercing, prophetic critiques of our times. As his grandson and namesake Carl F. Schmitt recalls, he understood reality in a way that “lay between, and always accounted for, both the particular and the general, the small and the large, the individual and the collective, the material and the spiritual, the natural and the divine. The scale of his approach was relentlessly human, participating in both the mundane and the glorious.”

Click on the image below to order your copy.  You can see a preview here.

The book makes a wonderful gift for Christmas!

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Carl Schmitt

The Conscience of Beauty


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