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Rockwell Kent, 1896
Rockwell Kent, 1896

   Rockwell Kent was born into a comfortable, upper-middle-class family in Tarrytown, New York, in 1882. His father, Rockwell Kent Sr., was a lawyer who sought prosperity through foreign mining ventures. When the elder Kent died suddenly of typhoid fever following a trip to Honduras, Kentís mother, Sara, pregnant with her third child, was left in genteel poverty, often dependent upon the conditional kindness of her tight-fisted aunt, Josie Banker.

    Saraís sister, Josephine (Holgate), named after the miserly Aunt Josie, came to live with the family and served as the householdís disciplinarian. A talented artist herself, Josephine (Aunt Jo) decided to resume her art studies in Europe and took 13-year-old Rockwell with her to England, Holland, and Germany. Jo expressed enthusiasm for Kentís early artistic efforts, despite her own assertion that, ďYouíll never be able to support yourself as an artist; nobody can.Ē

    Rockwell always attended private schools, including the Episcopal Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut, where he refused to learn Latin, outlasting his teacher in a lengthy standoff. He graduated from the Horace Mann School in New York City in 1900 and began the study of architecture at Columbia that fall.

    During the summer before he started at Columbia, Kentís family vacationed at Shinnecock, on Long Island, where he attended the summer art program of painter William Merritt Chase. Kent spent three summers studying at Shinnecock with Chase, who immediately recognized Kentís talent and eventually offered him a scholarship to the New York School of Art, then also known as the Chase School. Trying to honor his familyís wishes, Kent declined the offer. He continued at Columbia, but cut back on his architectural studies to attend evening art classes.
Rockwell Kent, Monhegan, 1905
Rockwell Kent, Monhegan, 1905
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Thumbnail ImageColumbia Train, c.1902
ink on paperboard
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.191]
Thumbnail ImageBoy with Kite, Rockwell Kent age 1, n.d.
oil on wood
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.132.1]
Thumbnail ImageBoy with Bird, Rockwell Kent age 3, n.d.
oil on wood
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.132.2]
Thumbnail ImageWilliam Merritt Chase
Portrait of Rockwell Kent, 1903
oil on canvas
Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton
[P52000.173]
Thumbnail ImageSelf Portrait, 1905
oil on canvas
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.1.9]
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