Arthur Putnam1873 - 1930
Born: 1873, Waveland, Mississippi
Died: 1930, Paris, France
Best known for his cast bronze animals, Arthur Putnam was born in 1873 in Waveland, Mississippi, and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. As a youth, Putnam preferred to spend his time outdoors rather than in school. As a last attempt to get him interested in academics, his mother sent him to Kemper Hall Military Academy where he lasted only a year before he was asked to leave. Instead of attending school, Putnam worked. He first worked as an elevator boy, and then as an assistant in a photoengraving office where he learned the rudiments of drawing. His mother later moved the family to San Diego where she had bought a lemon ranch. Putnam's teenage years were filled with work on the ranch and drawing the wildlife he saw around him.
In 1894 he attended the San Francisco Mid-Winter Fair and stayed to take art lessons from Julie Heyneman at the Art Students League. Putnam returned to San Diego in 1898 to work as a surveyor for the Mesa Dam, which was then being built. He married Grace Story, whom he met at the San Diego Art School, in July of 1899 in Sacramento, and the couple had two children.
The years between 1900-1905 were Putnam's most productive, and he produced the work that he is best known for during this time. Putnam, his family, and some friends traveled to Paris in 1905 and he exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1906. It was in Paris that he became acquainted with and greatly admired Auguste Rodin and his work. The family returned to San Francisco in 1906 right after the infamous major earthquake that destroyed most of the city. In 1911 Putnam's art career came to an end when a tumor was removed from his brain. The surgery caused paralysis on the left side of his body, loss of perception, and violent, abrupt changes in mood. He and Grace Putnam divorced shortly afterwards. Putnam remarried on March 19, 1917 to Marion Pearson; in 1921 they moved to Europe. Putnam died in 1930 in Paris.