Submitted by Christine Edmonson on
Rockwell Kent studied with William Meritt Chase on Long Island and with Robert Henri at Columbia University. But it was his move to Monhegan Island, Maine, that influenced his painting and created a painter of isolated communities. Bruce Robertson writes in Reckoning with Winslow Homer that Kent set out to become an islander, working as lobsterman and house builder, yet "painting furiously." Kent escaped periodically to trek through the wilds of Newfoundland, Alaska, Labrador and Greenland, living with and painting the native people.
His first exhibition of Monhegan paintings in 1907 won critical rave reviews. Of it, John Sloan wrote in his diary: "These pictures are of immense Rocks and Seas in fair weather and in winter. Splendid big thoughts. Some like prayers to God. I enjoyed them to the utmost and accept them as great. I'd like to buy some of them."
It was inevitable that Kent be compared to Winslow Homer in both painting and lifestyle, both living "seafaring adventures and solitary vigils in frozen wastes." Maine Coast, 1907 was painted from his Monhegan studio window, facing one the the cliffs on the east end of the island. Kent loved the harsh realities of nature, and the hardness of light reflected off white snow. Even after he left Maine behind, Kent never abandoned the honesty of rugged landscape and ascetic lifestyle.