A Landscape by Rockwell Kent for the Orlando Museum of Art


Rockwell Kent (1882-1971)
Fisherman’s Beach, 1907
Oil on canvas - 63.5 x 76.2 cm
Orlando, Museum of Art
Photo : Orlando Museum of Art

20/2/14 - Acquisition - Orlando, Museum of Art - He simply wanted to "paint the rhythm of eternity", seize the "infinite thing". Rockwell Kent studied painting in New York under William Merritt Chase, then Robert Henri before setting out for broader horizons, following the advice of Henri who encouraged him to leave for Monhegan Island in Maine in 1905 where he stayed for five years.

One of the paintings produced while on the island was recently donated by the Friends of American Art to the Orlando Museum of Art, a purchase made at the New York gallery of Michael Altman Fine Art & Advisory Services. Two fishermen, one dragging his boat onto the beach, the other carrying a bucket with the day’s catch, animate an austere landscape, transcribed in shades of beige, green and gray, softly illuminated by a golden light breaking through the haze and outlining a few houses in the distance.
In 1907 the artist successfully presented a series of paintings produced on Monhegan Island - including this one - for his first personal exhibition at the Clausen Galleries in New York. Today, several museums hold canvases from this period, the Metropolitan for example Winter, Monhegan Island and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg Village on the Island of Monhegan. Some of his works were also displayed at the show "The Odyssey of Rockwell Kent" in 2000 [1] reflecting Kent’s explorations of ever more remote regions in search of extreme landscapes, depicting humanity humbled by nature : Newfoundland (1914-1915), Alaska (1918-1919), Tierra del Fuego (1922-1923) and Greenland in the 30’s. He pursued his adventure in his work as well with illustrations, notably for Moby Dick in 1930. He was familiar with Henry David Thoreau’s writings - "Walden or Life in the Woods", published in 1854 in which the author recounts two years spent in a cabin in the woods far from society in order to rediscover the rhythm of the elements - and also Ralph Waldo Emerson, the head of the Transcendentalist movement in the U.S.

Founded in 1924, the holdings at the Orlando Museum of Art represent American art in the largest sense, from the Aztec and Inca civilizations to contemporary creations. In the section devoted to American art before 1945, visitors will find landscapes by Alfred Thompson Bricher and Johann Hermann Carmiencke, a still life by William Merritt Chase, a genre scene by De Scott Evans and even a charming portrait by Robert Henri.

Version française


Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, jeudi 20 février 2014


Notes

[1] The Norman Rockwell Museum, from 24 June to 29 October 2000 ; The Appleton Museum of Art, from 18 November 2000 to 28 January 2001.



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