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Rockwell Kent Gallery
June 11, 2005 - May 31, 2006         Open Every Day Except Holidays, Noon to 4 pm
In Celebration of the 75th Anniversary
of the Lakeside Press Edition of

Moby Dick or The Whale
By Herman Melville
Illustrated by
Rockwell Kent
View the Illustrations:
Images are grouped and displayed by frame in the exhibition and website.
Frame 1 Frame 2 Frame 3
Frame 4 Frame 5 Frame 6
Whale Button The Story:

Whale Button Introduction:
The Illustrations:

Rockwell Kent was originally approached in 1926 by R. R. Donnelley and Sons, Lakeside Press to do illustrations for Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. Kent rejected, but suggested Moby Dick instead. Kent was given complete freedom to design and illustrate the three-volume set. Extensive archival material exists at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, The Rockwell Kent Papers, that document the project.

Completed in 1930, the Deluxe Edition of 1,000 copies, in three volumes and encased in a metal slipcase, sold out immediately.

Soon the Random House edition, circulated through the Book of the Month Club, was published. Selling for $3.50 each. This version was also an immediate success, with its infamous cover and dust jacket that failed to recognize the author.

For the last 75 years, Moby Dick, with illustrations by Rockwell Kent has been in publication in the US, even with R. R. Donnelley, Inc. reluctant to support a mass produced edition in 1930 for fear it would have an adverse effect on their edition.

A long-standing controversy between the publisher and Kent has existed over the ownership to the rights to the images. In 2000, upon the death of Sally Kent Gorton, the rights to Kent's artwork and writings were gifted to the Plattsburgh College Foundation to support the Plattsburgh State Art Museum's Rockwell Kent Gallery and Collection. In 2004 the College reached an agreement with the publisher to share the rights to the images.

As recently as 2004 two book publishers published new editions of Moby Dick with Rockwell Kent's illustrations. One publication is in the Japanese language while the other is in German. The popularity of Rockwell Kent's illustrations are as popular today as they were in 1930 when they were first introduced.

The illustrations featured in the exhibition are press proofs from the 1930 Lakeside Edition of Moby Dick. A complete set with several unpublished images were gifted to the art museum along with most of the other items in this exhibition by Sally Kent Gorton through her estate in May of 2000.

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