A Finding Aid to the Jan de Swart Papers Papers,
1916-1994
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.deswjan
Creators:
De Swart, Jan, 1908-
Dates:
1916-1994
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3.8 Linear Feet
Repository:
The papers of southern California sculptor and inventor Jan de Swart measure 3.8 linear feet and are dated 1916-1994. They consist of correspondence, records concerning de Swart's inventions, writings, printed material, miscellaneous records, and photographs.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of southern California sculptor and inventor Jan de Swart measure 3.8 linear feet and are dated 1916-1994. They consist of correspondence, records concerning de Swart's inventions, writings, printed material, miscellaneous records, and photographs.
Correspondence mostly concerns de Swart's career as an artist and, to a lesser extent, his personal life. Series 2: Invention Files documents many of de Swart's inventions through drawings, patents, contracts, licensing and royalty agreements, printed material, and related correspondence.
Writings by de Swart consist of "Notes on My Film Metamorphoses" and brief notes for remarks to students during the run of his exhibition at San Fernando Valley State University. Included among the writings by other authors is an extensive manuscript by Ursula de Swart about her life and that of her husband. Printed material includes articles about Jan de Swart, exhibition reviews, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and an article by Jan and Ursula de Swart about plastic as a sculptural medium.
Among the miscellaneous records are a few biographical notes, guest books from many of de Swart's exhibitions, and pencil drawings by Jacobs and Jock D. Peters. The 1942 calendar/diary of Ursel Peters (Ursula de Swart) records her marriage to Jan de Swart. A grant proposal for the completion of Jan - A Tribute to Jan de Swart, a film by Judith Bronowski and Lauren Rickey, includes biographical information and photographs.
Photographs are of artwork by Jan de Swart, exhibition installations, people (among them Jan and Ursula de Swart, and their granddaughter), places (including "Allegro," the de Swart home, and de Swart's studio), miscellaneous topics, and a photograph album of de Swart's work. Also included are a large number of negatives, slides, and transparencies.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1925-1991 (Box 1; 5 folders)
  • Series 2: Invention Files, 1930-1980 (Box 1; 0.5 linear ft.)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1920-1983 (Box 1; 0.3 linear ft.)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1919-1994 (Boxes 2, 4; 0.3 linear ft.)
  • Series 5: Miscellaneous Records, 1916-1989 (Boxes 2, 4; 14 folders)
  • Series 6: Photographs, 1933-1987 (Boxes 2-4, OVs 5-14; 2.5 linear ft.)

Biographical Note
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.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a preliminary level by Catherine S. Gaines in 2006.
Author
Catherine S. Gaines
Provenance
Gift of the artist's son, Jock de Swart, in 1996, with an addition received in 2001.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Jan de Swart 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.
Preferred Citation
Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Manuscripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slides (photographs) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Visitors' books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Patents Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventors -- California -- Los Angeles Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Essays Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- California -- Los Angeles Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Modernism (Art) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Notes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blueprints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
De Swart, Ursula Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/