Winter Landscape

Rockwell Kent (American, 1882-1971)

Currently on View in K205
Image Licensing

From 1905 until 1910 Kent lived on Monhegan Island, Maine, where he painted this scene.

Despite the relatively serene conditions, Kent imbued the landscape with a sense of drama and magnitude.

The broad brushstrokes showcase the influence of Kent’s teachers William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri.

Curatorial Summary

Rockwell Kent was born in Tarrytown, New York, and lived most of his early life around New York City. An aunt encouraged Kent to pursue his talent in art. He studied mechanical drawing and woodworking at the Horace Mann School in New York and later joined William Merritt Chase’s summer classes at Shinnecock, Long Island, where he learned to paint out of doors. Kent then studied at the New York School of Art with Robert Henri. He became an avid traveler with the support of Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Kent focused primarily on landscape painting and spent time on Monhegan Island in Maine. He had his first exhibition in New York in 1907.

During the next decade Kent would find success as an artist, author, illustrator, printmaker, and lecturer, and his simplified designs, painted in a realistic style with decorative touches, won him accolades. But demand for his art took a downward turn when he, as a lifelong socialist, became an outspoken supporter of communism, believing it to be a path to socialism. He was the first American to exhibit in the former Soviet Union—winning the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967—and he came under scrutiny by the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee. Galleries and museums shunned his art and the U.S. government restricted his travel. In defiance, Kent gave most of his collection to the former Soviet Union in 1960.

Kent had a special affinity for winter scenes and often ventured far north on painting trips. Winter Landscape probably shows a view along the coast of Maine near Monhegan Island. Robert Henri’s influence appears in the broad, free brushwork, the dramatic massing of shapes, and the “simple palette.” Earthy gray unifies the picture and powerfully conveys the depressed mood often associated with an overcast day in winter. Infrared examination of the painting revealed that there were figures in the landscape that the artist painted out in the final version.

Reference

Traxel, David. An American Saga: The Life and Times of Rockwell Kent. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.

Object Information

artist
Rockwell Kent (American, 1882-1971)
creation date
1909
materials
oil on canvas
dimensions
38 x 44 in.
41 x 59-1/2 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Signed and dated in dark paint at lower right: Rockwell Kent [bullet point] 1909 [bullet point]
accession number
31.152
credit line
James E. Roberts Fund
copyright
By permission of Plattsburgh State Art Museum, Rockwell Kent Gallery and Collection
collection
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945
colors

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