Arthur PUTNAM (1873-1930)

“Putnam was a really great sculptor. He thought naturally in solid, expressively modulated, three-dimensional forms. His pieces have bulk and it is not empty, bloated bulk, but solid structural form. His surfaces are in broad, broken planes, conventionalized, but not at the expense of accuracy, not in that tricky expressiveness of which many of the Rodin imitators are guilty, but in a vital realism. In a sense, he is a lumierist sculptor, because he evidently has fashioned his surfaces in large masses of light and shade; but he is not a lumierist sculptor in the specious sense of some of the moderns who create a veil of atmosphere that destroys the architectonics of the stone. Most of his pieces, moreover, are treated not only in terms of mass and surface, but in consideration of the outline also, from the patterning of the poses of his animals, he gets not only arresting decorative effect, but also expressive force. He uses attitudes in animals, as Michael Angelo used them in men, to convey the feeling of concentrated power.”

Read Arthur Putnam‘s biography in California Art Project, volume 6. CARA_V06_PUTNAM

At a glance

Birth :  September 6, 1873 in Waveland, Mississippi (United States)
Death : 1930, in Paris (France)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1899
Married to : Grace Storey (1899-1915), Marion Pearson (1917-1930)
Occupation: Painter, sculptor


Art education, teachers : Art Student League with Emil Carlsen, Arthur Mathews, Fred Yates. Pupil and assistant of Rupert Schmidt.
Partners : Henry Atkins (Vickerey’s)
Relations : Stanley Armstrong, Henry Atkins, Jean-Francis Auburtin, Bakewell and Brown,  Giacomo Balla, Gutzon Borglum, Dr. Philip King Brown, Emil Carlsen, Earl Cummings, Maynard Dixon, Daniel Chester French, Loie Fuller, August Hammarstrom, Julie Heyneman,  the Irwins,  Edward Kemeys, Alice Klauber, Jack London, John Maesfield, Arthur Mathews, Gladding McBean, Alice McMullins, Willis Polk, Prince Poniatowski, Gottardo Piazzoni, Bruce Porter, Boardman Robinson, John Singer Sargent, Rupert Schmidt, Ralph Stackpole, Robert Louis Stevenson, Fred Storey, Laura Voornman, Fred Yates
Patrons : Williams H. Crocker, E.W. Scripps, Adolph Spreckels, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, Hegelsen

Resources in the Bancroft Library


Julie Helen Heyneman papers, 1886-1942. Correspondance with Arthur Putnam. Catalog RecordFinding Aid 

Putnam, Arthur (ca. 1890-ca. 1911?). San Francisco Board of Fire Commissioners portraits and negatives of sculpture [graphic] Catalog Record

Pictorial archives

Pictorial Material from the Julie Helen Heyneman Collection [graphic], ca. 1890-ca. 1920?. Sketches and 2 paintings by Arthur Putnam. Catalog RecordFinding Aid

Bianca Conti portrait collection [graphic] (ca.1910 – ca. 1925.) Catalog Record


Heyneman, Julie Helenn (1932). Arthur Putnam, sculptor. San Francisco, Calif., Johnck & Seeger. Catalog Record – Online


Data Visualization : mapping of the artist biography

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