Brents Carlton papers, 1903-2014

A Finding Aid to the Brents Carlton Papers, 1903-2014, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald and Rihoko Ueno

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Biographical Information

Brents Carlton was a sculptor and painter who worked primarily in San Francisco, California.

Brents Carlton was born on October 31, 1903, in Roswell, New Mexico; his family later moved to Arkansas. In 1924, Carlton moved to San Francisco to attend the California School of Fine Arts for four years. From 1928 to 1929, he studied under a scholarship at the Art Students' League in New York, after which he returned to San Francisco and established his own studio at Polk Street. In order to support his family, Carlton was also employed as a pharmacist for 30 years.

In 1937, Carlton moved to a studio on Montgomery Street. In 1938, Carlton was commissioned to create four of his most notable works for the Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940) on Treasure Island: two large cast concrete figures for the Fountain of Western Waters at the Court of Pacifica, and two 18-foot bas-relief figures for the fa´┐Żade of the California State Building. He married Jessie Bosworth in 1939 and they had a daughter Carrie.

In the mid-1940s, Carlton relocated to a new studio above the pharmacy on Mission Street, where he worked. Due to failing health in the late 1950s, Carlton switched from sculpture to painting. Brents Carlton died of cancer on September 6, 1962 in San Francisco. His works have been exhibited in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Oakland Art Gallery, and the San Francisco Museum.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of sculptor and painter Brents Carlton measure 4.5 linear feet and date from 1903 through 2014. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, notes, a scrapbook, exhibition files, art work, photographs, and printed material.

Biographical materials include several autobiographical accounts, school-related materials, a student card from the Art Students' League, and other identification cards.

Correspondence consists primarily of letters from family members and colleagues, including letters from Victor Arnautoff, H. Mallette Dean, Margaret De Patta, Eugen Neuhaus, Dale Nichols, and Judson T. Smith.

Personal business records include bank passbooks, pharmacy licensing records, receipts, income tax records, and ledgers of income, expenses, and art work sold.

Notes consists of Brents Carlton's address book, notebooks, and meeting minutes, as well as notes written by his daughter Carrie Carlton Helser.

There is one scrapbook. Exhibition files include correspondence, notes, photographs, and printed material related to the Golden Gate International Exhibition and other shows. There are also sketches, drawings, and prints by Carlton in the artwork series.

Photographic material includes an album, slides, negatives, and prints depicting Brents Carlton and his artwork, friends, family, and studios.

Printed material includes magazines, brochures, catalogs, and clippings.

A 2015 addition to the Brents Carlton papers includes additional biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, photographic material, and printed material.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 10 series. Series 10 consists of a 2015 addition to the papers that was not integrated into the other series, although there are similar types of materials.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

  • Arnautoff, Victor Mikhail, 1896-1979
  • Art Students League (New York, N.Y.). -- Students
  • De Patta, Margaret, 1903-1964
  • Dean, Mallette, 1907-
  • Golden Gate International Exposition. (1939-1940 : San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Helser, Carrie Carlton
  • Neuhaus, Eugen, 1879-1963
  • Nichols, Dale, 1904-
  • Smith, Judson, 1880-1962
  • Painters--California
  • Photographs
  • Prints
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sculptors--California
  • Sketches

Provenance

The Brents Carlton papers were donated by the artist's daughter Carrie Carlton Helser in 1991 and 2015.

How the Collection was Processed

The first accretion of the Brents Carlton papers was processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 2004. A 2015 addition of 2.1 linear feet was processed by Rihoko Ueno in 2016.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Brents Carlton papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Available Formats

Portions (1991 accretion only) of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 5873-5874 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan.

How to Cite this Collection

Brents Carlton papers, 1903-2014. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1921-1944
0.1 Linear feet; Box 1

Biographical material consists of several autobiographical accounts, school-related material and miscellaneous identification cards.

Box Folder
1 1 Autobiographical Accounts, 1939-1942
1 2-3 School-Related Material, 1921-1938
1 4 Driver's License and Selective Service Cards, 1924-1944

Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1987
0.2 Linear feet; Boxes 1, 6

Correspondence consists primarily of letters and greeting cards from family members and at least one letter each from colleagues including Victor Arnautoff, Margaret De Patta, Eugen Neuhaus, and Judson T. Smith. Letters are also found in the scrapbook filed in Series 5.

Box Folder
1 5 Correspondence, 1922-1924
1 6 Correspondence, 1925
1 7 Correspondence, Jan-Sep 1926
1 8 Correspondence, Oct 1926
1 9 Correspondence, Nov-Dec 1926
1 10 Correspondence, Jan-Aug 1927
1 11 Correspondence, Sep-Dec 1927
1 12 Correspondence, 1928-1929
Oversized material housed in Box 6.
1 13 Correspondence, 1930
1 14 Correspondence, 1931
1 15 Correspondence, 1932-1935
1 16 Correspondence, 1936
1 17 Correspondence, 1937
1 18 Correspondence, 1938
1 19 Correspondence, 1939
1 20 Correspondence, 1940
1 21 Correspondence, 1941
1 22 Correspondence, 1942-1943
1 23 Correspondence, 1944-1949
1 24 Correspondence, 1950-1959
1 25 Correspondence, 1960-1965
1 26 Correspondence, 1983-1987
1 27 Correspondence, circa 1925-1962
Box
6 Oversize Christmas Card from Box 1, Folder 12, 1929

Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1924-1959
0.2 Linear feet; Box 1

Personal business records consist of bank passbooks, pharmacy licensing records, ledgers of income and expenses, a ledger of art work sold, receipts for school, art sales, shipping, rent, utilities, and supplies, and income tax records.

Box Folder
1 28-29 Savings Account Passbooks, 1924-1930
1 30 Pharmacy Licensing Records, 1926-1939
1 31-33 Ledgers of Income and Expenses, 1925-1937
1 34 Ledger of Art Work Sold and Prices, 1942-1943
1 35 Receipts for California School of Fine Arts, 1924-1954
1 36 Receipts for Art Sales, 1936-1944
1 37 Receipts for the Shipping of Sculpture, 1937-1940
1 38 Receipts for Photography, 1936-1959
1 39 Receipts for Room Rent, 1924
1 40-41 Receipts for Studio Rent, 1931-1940
1 42 Receipts for Studio Telephone, 1937-1940
1 43 Receipts for Art Supplies, 1931-1951
1 44 Miscellaneous Receipts, 1928-1943
1 45 Income Tax Records, 1931-1940

Series 4: Notes, circa 1923-2009
0.1 Linear feet; Boxes 1, 6

Notes consist of an address book, notebooks recording friends' names and art media, minutes of meetings, and miscellaneous notes by Brents Carlton, in addition to one folder of notes by his daughter Carrie Carlton Helser on the subject of some murals he created for the Polo Club.

Box Folder
1 46 Address Book, circa 1923-1962
1 47 Notebook Listing Names of Friends, circa 1925-circa 1950
1 48 Notebook Concerning Art Media, circa 1930-1962
1 49 Minutes of Meetings, circa 1931
1 50 Miscellaneous Notes, circa 1930-1962
Oversized material housed in Box 6.
1 51 Carrie Carlton Helser's Notes and Research on Brents Carlton Polo Club Frescoes, 1937-2009
Includes 1 electronic disk (CD).
Box
6 Oversize Miscellaneous Note from Box 1, Folder 50, circa 1930-1962

Series 5: Scrapbook, 1928-1962
0.2 Linear feet; Box 6

The scrapbook contains clippings, including Carlton's obituary, an exhibition catalog, and 14 letters from colleagues including Eugen Neuhaus and Dale Nichols.

Box
6 Scrapbook, 1928-1962

Series 6: Exhibition Files, 1927-1983
0.3 Linear feet; Box 1, OV 8

Letters, notes, receipts, photographs, and printed material relating to Carlton's participation in exhibitions at art organizations and galleries.

Box Folder
1 52 San Francisco Art Association, 1927-1955
1 53 California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1929-1983
1 54 The Art Center Gallery, 1930-1950
1 55 Foundation of Western Art, 1935-1938
1 56 San Francisco Museum of Art, 1935-1983
1 57 Amberg-Hirth Gallery, 1936-1954
1 58 Oakland Art Gallery, 1936-1973
1 59 Sacramento Junior College Solo Exhibition, 1937-1938
1 60-64 Golden Gate International Exposition, 1937-1940
Oversized blueprints housed in OV 8.
1 65 Architectural League of New York, 1938
1 66 First California Ceramic Exhibition, 1938-1940
1 67 National Sculpture Society Festival, 1940-1983
Box
OV 8 Oversize Blueprints for Golden Gate International Exposition Sculptures from Box 1, Folder 60, 1937

Series 7: Art Work, 1924-1962
0.3 Linear feet; Boxes 1, 6, OV 8

Art work by Carlton consists of 2 sketchbooks, drawings, prints, a tempera sketch, and Christmas cards. Art work by others includes woodcuts by H. Mallette Dean and a portrait drawing of Carlton by Victor Arnautoff.

Box Folder
1 68 Annotated Sketchbook, circa 1930-1962
1 69 Sketchbook, 1924-1925
1 70 Drawings, circa 1925-1962
Oversized drawings housed in Box 6.
1 71 Prints, circa 1930-1962
1 72 Tempera Sketch, circa 1935
1 73 Christmas Cards Created by Carlton, circa 1940-1962
1 74 Artwork by Others, 1928-1941
Oversized drawing housed in OV 8.
Box
6 Oversize Drawings from Box 1, Folder 70, circa 1925-1962
Box
OV 8 Oversize Drawing of Brents Carlton by Victor Arnautoff from Box 1, Folder 74, 1931

Series 8: Photographs, 1923-circa 1960
0.6 Linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 6-7

Photographs are of Carlton, his family, friends, colleagues, studios, classrooms, and art work. There are also photographs of art work by others including Victor Arnautoff and Margaret De Patta.

Box Folder
1 75-79 Photographs of Carlton and Family Members, 1923-1952
(5 folders)
Box Folder
2 1-2 Photographs of Carlton with Friends and Colleagues including Victor Arnautoff, 1927-1941, undated
2 3 Photographs of Carrie Carlton Helser with Sculpture by Brents Carlton, circa 1980
2 4-6 Photographs of Art Classroom, 1927
2 7 Photographs of Liberty Street Apartment, 1945-1948
2 8 Photographs of Montgomery Street Studio, circa 1940-circa 1945
2 9 Photographs of Ney Street Home, circa 1955
2 10 Photographs of Polk Street Studio, 1931-1935
2 11-24 Photographs of Sculptures, 1927-1944
Oversized photographs housed in Box 7.
2 25 Album of Sculptures, circa 1930-circa 1960
Oversized album housed in Box 6.
2 26-28 Photographs of Drawings and Paintings, circa 1928-1932
Oversized photograph housed in Box 7.
2 29 Photographs of Designs by Margaret De Patta, circa 1932
2 30 Photographs of Art work by Others including Victor Arnautoff, 1927-1932
2 31 Miscellaneous Photographs, circa 1930-circa 1955
Oversized material housed in Box 7.
Box
6 Oversize Album of Brents Carlton's Sculptures from Box 2, Folder 25, circa 1930-circa 1960
Box
7 Oversize Board-Mounted Photographs of Sculptures from Box 2, Folder 24, 1927-1944
7 Oversize Photograph of a Batik Painting from Box 2, Folder 26, circa 1928-1932
7 Oversize Photograph of "Woman in Spanish Dress" from Box 2, Folder 31, circa 1930-circa 1955

Series 9: Printed Material, 1923-2012
0.2 Linear feet; Box 2

Printed material consists of clippings, exhibition catalogs, brochures, and miscellaneous printed items.

Box Folder
2 32-41 Clippings, 1926-2009
2 42-44 Exhibition Catalogs for Carlton, 1930-1951
2 45 Exhibition Catalogs for Others, 1949-circa 1958
2 46-47 Brochures for the California School of Fine Arts, 1923-1942
2 48 Brochure for the Art Students' League, 1928-1929
2 49 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1964-2012

Series 10: 2015 Addition to the Brents Carlton Papers, 1903-2014
2.3 Linear feet; Boxes 2-5, 7

A 2015 addition to the Brents Carlton papers also includes biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, exhibition files, and photographic material.

This series is arranged as 6 subseries:

10.1: Biographical Material, 1903-circa 2012

Biographical material includes Brents Carlton's bibliography, curriculum vitae, certificates and licenses, a funeral guestbook, and assorted artifacts such as medals from art competitions, a printing block, and his signature seal.

Box Folder
2 50 Copies of Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates, 1903-1962
2 51 Driver's License, 1918
2 52 2 Medals from Art Exhibitions, 1920-1941
2 53 Printing Block of Sculpture, circa 1940-circa 1960
2 54 Signature Seal, circa 1940-circa 1960
2 55 Pharmacist License Renewals, 1962-1963
2 56 Guest Register from Funeral, 1962
2 57 Appraisal for Brents Carlton Sculpture Donation, 1998
2 58 Boston Museum of Fine Arts Object List of Brents Carlton Art, 2004
Includes 1 electronic disk (CD).
2 59 Brents Carlton Bibliography, circa 2006
2 60 Brents Carlton Curriculum Vitae, circa 2012

10.2: Correspondence, 1924-2009

This subseries includes family letters to Brents Carlton, as well as the correspondence of his daughter Carrie Carlton Helser's with museums, galleries, and others regarding Brents Carlton's artwork.

Box Folder
2 61 Family Letters to Brents Carlton, 1924-1945
2 62 Carrie Carlton Helser Correspondence, 1972-2009

10.3: Personal Business Records, circa 1929-2014

Personal business records consist of gallery sales, consignment agreements, and inventories of Brents Carlton's artwork categorized by their sales status.

Box Folder
3 1-2 Art Inventory Binder of Work "For Sale/Not for Sale/Sold," circa 1929-circa 2003
3 3 Jan Halloway Fine Arts Consignment Agreements, 1987-1997
3 4 Spencer J. Helfen Fine Arts Sales, 2002-2014
3 5 Pricing Codes and Art Inventory, circa 2005

10.4: Exhibition Files, 1937-1991

The bulk of this subseries consists of material related to the Golden Gate International Exposition. There is also one folder of material on the Brents Carlton Retrospective at Atelier Dore. Exhibition files include correspondence, printed material, and documents related to the Art Treasures Restoration Project which was dedicated to the preservation of art from the Golden Gate International Exhibition.

Box Folder
3 Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940)
3 6 Photocopies of Correspondence, 1937-1940
3 7 Printed Material, 1937-1940
Oversized material housed in Box 7.
3 8 Art Treasures Restoration Project, 1987-1991
3 9 Atelier Dore, Inc. - Brents Carlton Retrospective Exhibition (1983), 1983-1986
Box
7 Oversized Magazines from Box 3, Folder 7, 1937-1938

10.5: Photographic Material, circa 1920-circa 2002

Photographic material consists of photographs, slides, and negatives of Brents Carlton, family, friends, studios, residences, and artwork. There are several disbound binders that contain photographs of sculptures and art at each of Carlton's studios and the images are accompanied by information such as the title, date, medium, and size of each work. The titles in quotes reflect the original binder title.

Box Folder
3 10 Brents Carlton Portraits, circa 1930-circa 1940
3 11 Brents Carlton's Parents and Siblings, circa 1920-1948
3 12 Brents Carlton with Family and Friends, cira 1927-1961
3 13 Brents and Jessie Carlton Honeymoon, 1939
3 14 Brents Carlton Working on Polynesian Boy Sculpture, circa 1939
3 15 Art from Classes at California School of Fine Arts, circa 1927
3 16 City Drug Store, circa 1940-circa 1960
3 17 Family Vacations, circa 1952
3 18 Golden Gate International Exhibition, 1939-1940
3 19 Liberty Street Residence, circa 1945-1948
3 20 Mission Street Studio and Drugstore, circa 1940-circa 1960
3 21 Ney Street Residence, circa 1950-circa 1960
3 22 Polk Street Studio, circa 1931
3 23-24 "Art School" Binder, circa 1923-circa 1927
3 25 "Mission Street and Ney Street" Binder, circa 1945-circa 1960
3 26-27 "Montgomery Street" Studio Binder, 1937-circa 1945
3 28-29 "Polk Street" Binder, circa 1929-circa 1937
Box Folder
4 1-2 Negatives of Sculptures, circa 1930-circa 1954
4 3 Board-Mounted Photographs of Sculptures, circa 1940-circa 1960
4 4 Sculpture Snapshots, circa 1950-circa 1998
4 5-6 Board-Mounted Photographs of Paintings, circa 1950-circa 1960
4 7 Photographs and Negatives of Paintings, circa 1950-circa 1998
Box Folder
5 1 Slides of Artwork, circa 1960-circa 1980
5 2 Miscellaneous Negatives and Scans of Artwork, circa 1990-circa 2002
Includes 3 electronic disks (CD).

10.6: Printed Material, 1938-1995

This series includes magazine and catalogs.

Box Folder
5 3 Antiques and Fine Art Magazine, 1991
5 4 Architectural Forum, 1938
5 5 Architectural League 52nd Annual Exhibition Catalog, 1938
5 6 Art Students League Course Catalog, 1992-1993
5 7 California Arts and Architecture, 1941
5 8 Triptych Magazine, 1993-1995