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Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994

Biographical Note

Jan de Swart (1908-1987) was a sculptor and inventor that lived and worked primarily in southern California.
Jan de Swart was born in Breda, Holland in 1908. At age 13, he began a five-year apprenticeship in the atelier of Master Yonkers in S'Hertgenbosch, run by a famous carver of ecclesiastical sculpture and furniture, and then completed compulsory military service before emigrating to the United States in 1929.
During his early years in California, de Swart worked as a furniture maker. He prospected for gold in Arizona, and lived in an artists' colony at Calabasas, California, during the 1930s, eventually settling in Eagle Rock, outside of Los Angeles, where he remained for the rest of his life. In the 1940s, he devoted himself to sculpture in wood, metal, and plastic, and participated in many exhibitions. His many commissions included murals, jewelry, furniture, and sculptured screens in a wide variety of media.
In addition, de Swart was an inventor who held over 100 scientific patents. Many of his inventions were for rivets, grommets, and other types of fasteners used for ships, aircraft, and machinery; he also developed a strong, honey-combed core material that was used for a variety of structural purposes.
He died in 1987 after suffering a heart attack.