Famous in his own time as a painter, writer, arctic adventurer, and political activist, Rockwell Kent (1882–1971) left his most enduring legacy as a printmaker and illustrator of books. His pieces fitted into the realist tradition that was a revolutionary force early in the 20th century and then gradually developed a stylized approach to subjects taken from the working class.
Kent was a remarkable man. Perhaps because of his political beliefs, but probably out of some deeper feeling for reality, he worked at various times in his life as a lobsterman and carpenter along the coast of Maine and as a ship’s carpenter. He lived in Alaska, Newfoundland, and Greenland, drawing many of his best-known pictures of the people and their activities there. In a small boat he explored the waters off the southern tip of South America.
Kent wrote and illustrated Wilderness (1920) and Voyaging Southward (1924), which many critics consider the best American books ever produced in terms of harmonious balance between text and pictures. Along with Fritz Eichenberg, Kent is as responsible as any artist for the high level of American book illustration during the first half of the 20th century. His illustrations, like his paintings, often create a mood of loneliness and a sense of man’s small resources against the might of nature. Among the authors he illustrated are Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Herman Melville.
So, here you are a few of Rockwell’s enchanting creations.
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