Rockwell Kent (American, 1882–1971) was an illustrator, painter, architect, carpenter, writer, dairy farmer, and political activist.
Kent was born in Tarrytown, New York and showed interest in art at a young age. His aunt Jo Holgate was an accomplished ceramicist and showed Kent artistic techniques. Kent attended school in New York City and excelled in drawings and mechanical design. In 1900, Kent decided to study architecture at Columbia University. During his summers, he studied painting at William Merritt Chase's art school in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. Kent eventually graduated from Columbia, took classes at the New York School of Art, and returned later to Columbia to study painting. His classmates at Columbia included George Bellows and Edward Hopper.
In 1905, Kent moved to Maine but traveled back and forth to New York to exhibit his paintings. Over the next several decades, he taught and painted in Connecticut, Maine, and New York. He also traveled to places like Newfoundland, Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland. He found creative and artistic inspiration in these rural, rugged, and cold locations where he focused on his paintings and writings. In 1919 and 1920, Knoedler Gallery showed his paintings and drawings of Alaska. Also, in 1933, the Art Institute of Chicago held a show of his paintings of Greenland. Throughout the 20s and 30s, Kent published a range of print media and illustrations. In 1937, he was commissioned by the Federal Public Works Administration to paint two murals for the Post Office in Washington, D.C.
Due to Kent's progressive political and leftist views and causes, he became a target of suspicion by the State Department. His passport was revoked in 1950 after his first trip to Moscow. However, this did not stop the artist from exhibiting work in the Soviet Union. He even donated some 200 works to the people of the Soviet Union and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967. In 1971, though, Kent died of a heart attack. He was buried on his farm in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Rockwell Kents' work can be found in numerous collections and major museums worldwide.