Carl Schmitt was born in Warren, Ohio, the son of a music teacher. At age seventeen, he traveled to New York to study at the Chase School, where between 1906 to 1912, he trained under William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. In 1913, he became a pupil at the National Academy of Design under Emil Carlsen. He spent 1913-14 in Florence, thanks to the sponsorship of Zell Hart Deming of Warren, Ohio (and the aunt of poet Hart Crane). In later life, Schmitt was closely associated with the art colony at Silvermine. He lived there with his wife Grace, and ten children. The family spent time in Europe in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Schmitt was recovering from tuberculosis, but returned to Connecticut in 1939, where he lived the rest of his life on Borglum Road in Silvermine.