A New England Landscape
Oil on canvas
Purchased through gifts from the Lathrop Fellows; P.2000.26
A celebrated painter, printmaker, and illustrator, Rockwell Kent is known especially for work inspired by extended stays in northern regions of the world. He was also a political activist who supported the causes of organized labor, civil liberties, and peace and friendship with the Soviet Union. He initially studied architecture, but for three summers beginning in 1900 he enrolled in the summer painting classes of William Merritt Chase on Long Island and then in the so-called Chase School in New York, where he came under the influence of Robert Henri and fellow painter George Bellows. When the young Kent painted A New England Landscape in 1903, his artistic mentor was Abbott Thayer, with whom he lived and worked for an extended summer stay in Dublin, New Hampshire. Thayer’s almost mystical appreciation for nature and his finely honed powers of observation deeply affected Kent. This painting reflects that influence but also points to characteristics associated with Kent’s mature style, including a strong sense of graphic design and a fascination with the transforming effects of light. Kent later observed in his art a ceaseless quest “to arrest [light’s] transient moods, to hold them, capture them. And to that end, and that alone, I painted.” The square format of this work and its artfully arranged pictorial elements suggest that he shared at this early date an affinity with the then-popular Arts and Crafts aesthetic.
Last Updated: 4/17/09