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Rockwell Kent
(American, 1882 -1971)
The Faller, 1942
Colored wood engraving with linocut in two colors, 10 3/4" x 8 5/16"

Margery Wolf-Kuhn Art Acquisition Endowment Fund (86.043)

During the 1930s, Rockwell Kent was one of America’s most popular illustrators.  His distinctive graphic style won many admirers, and his work was reproduced in numerous books from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick to the collected works of William Shakespeare.  Kent’s prints, which included lithographs, engravings, and wood engravings, were highly esteemed as well.  Exemplified in The Faller, they frequently depict heroic figures set against the cosmic grandeur of nature.  The Faller was a special commission from the Weyerhauser Timber Company, which presented impressions of the two-color wood engraving as a Christmas gift to its Pulp Division customers in 1943.

Born in Tarrytown, New York, Kent studied both art and architecture.  Turning to painting under the influence of William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri, Kent was briefly associated with the Ashcan School, despite his preference for landscape compositions.  Painting trips to Monhegan Island, Newfoundland, and Alaska gave Kent a lifelong taste for adventure travel, which he wrote about in several books that he illustrated himself.  At first, Kent undertook illustration as a means of making ends meet, but by the 1930s, he was primarily known as a graphic artist.  Reaching the height of his career in the years before World War II, Kent’s outspoken pacifist and Socialist views, combined with a vocal appreciation of German culture, led to a decline in his popularity as the United States entered the war.  Kent fared no better during the McCarthy years, and by the 1960s, he was all but forgotten.  Since his death in 1971, however, Kent has been rediscovered as an important painter and printmaker, and his work has been featured in a number of recent museum exhibitions.