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Jean Charlot Collection

Identifier: MANUSCRIPT-CAHA00001

Scope and Contents

The Jean Charlot Collection is a major archive of documents and art works relating to the artist and writer Jean Charlot (1898 Paris-1979 Honolulu) and to those whom he came in contact over his long career in France, Mexico, the United States and the Pacific. Since the founding donation in 1981, the Collection has been considerably expanded by further gifts from his wife Zohmah Charlot, other family members, and from Charlot's collaborators, such as the important fine art printer Lynton Kistler and print scholar Peter Morse. It includes art works, correspondence, and photographs of Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and others. Charlot collected many broadsides of Mexican life printed by José Guadalupe Posada, as well as classical European printmakers such as Honoré Daumier. Photographers he worked with and whose work he collected include Edward Weston and Tina Modotti. Charlot’s published and unpublished writings, correspondence, diaries, sketch books, photographs, guest books, and more make this a collection of great depth.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900-1979

Language of Materials

Jean Charlot's writings and correspondence include the various languages he studied including his native French, then Spanish, Nahuatl, English and Hawaiian.

Conditions Governing Access

The Jean Charlot Collection maintains public reference hours twice a week. Hours are posted on the Library's website for the Jean Charlot Collection Reading Room. Tours, class visits, and collections research may be scheduled other times Monday through Friday, by appointment. Please contact the Art Archivist Librarian by email: or phone: 808-956-2849.

Biographical / Historical

Jean Charlot was an artist, teacher, scholar, critic, poet, and playwright. He studied at the École des Beaux Arts, and served in the French Army from 1918 to 1920. After the war he moved to Mexico, where he had relatives, and joined a group of other young artists in the Mexican Mural Renaissance of the 1920s. Charlot's fresco mural in the Preparatoria Nacional was the first of many he completed. While in Mexico, he wrote numerous articles on art, among them the first on the Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada, and worked as an archeologist and illustrator with the Carnegie Institute expedition to Chichén Itzá. In the 1930s, Charlot lived and worked in New York, also spending time in California and Iowa. During the 1940s, he worked in Georgia, Mexico and Colorado. In 1949, he was invited by the University of Hawai'i to paint a mural. He remained there as Professor of art, traveling extensively in the United States, the Pacific, and Asia. He died in Honolulu in 1979, at the age of 81.

As an artist, Charlot's international reputation rests on his more than sixty murals in the United States and Mexico and on his more than 700 prints. His paintings, drawings and numerous illustrated books are also widely known and admired. His high standing as a scholar and historian of art is largely independent of his own painting. He is the author of some twenty five books on art, including the definitive studies of the Mexican Mural Renaissance, the Academy of San Carlos, and, as co-author, the Temple of the Warriors at Chichén Itzá. He also authored a large number of scholarly and popular articles on numerous aspects of the arts.

His output of drawings, paintings, murals, prints, cartoons, books, articles, and other writings was prodigious. His life was full of significant connections within the intellectual and political milieu of the diverse communities where he lived — with artists and writers, with art and educational institutions, with the Roman Catholic Church, with indigenous and working people. With his wife, Zohmah Day Charlot (1909-2000), he nurtured students and friendships, maintained links lasting many years, and with his fine sense of history preserved many tangible records of his experience. He observed events and people precisely and wrote succinctly.


1319 [Square Feet] Linear Feet : Reading room, file room and closed storage. Materials are stored on shelves, in file drawers, or in map cases. Break down by linear feet will be included by series.


Jean Charlot Collection
In Progress
Malia Van Heukelem
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Libraries Repository