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Brents Carlton papers, 1903-2014

Brents Carlton papers, 1903-2014

Carlton, Brents, 1903-1962

Sculptor, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 4.5 linear feet

Summary: 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.

Biographical/Historical Note

Brents Carlton (1903-1962) was a sculptor and painter who worked primarily in San Francisco, California.


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

A Finding Aid to the Brents Carlton Papers, 1903-2014, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
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 façade 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.
Arrangement note
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.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1921-1944 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1987 (0.2 linear feet; Boxes 1, 6)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1924-1959 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 4: Notes, circa 1923-2009 (0.1 linear feet; Boxes 1, 6)
Series 5: Scrapbook, 1928-1962 (0.2 linear feet; Box 6)
Series 6: Exhibition Files, 1927-1983 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1, OV 8)
Series 7: Art Work, 1924-1962 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1, 6, OV 8)
Series 8: Photographs, 1923-circa 1960 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 6-7)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1923-2012 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 10: 2015 Addition to the Brents Carlton Papers, 1903-2014 (2.3 linear feet; Boxes 2-5, 7)
The Brents Carlton papers were donated by the artist's daughter Carrie Carlton Helser in 1991 and 2015.
Processing Information note
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.

Additional Forms Available

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.

Restrictions on Access

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

How to Cite This Collection

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

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