Rockwell Kent, This is My Own - New York State Museum.
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Salamina, inside Kent’s home, Igdlorssuit, Greenland, c.1932
Salamina, inside Kent’s home, Igdlorssuit, Greenland, c.1932
    At a housewarming party at Asgaard, businessman Arthur Allen mentioned that his 22-year-old son was planning a three-month cruise to Greenland. “God,” said Kent. “May I go with him?”

    On June 17, 1929, four days before Kent’s forty-seventh birthday, Direction, Arthur Allen Jr.’s 33-foot, 13-ton cutter, set sail for the settlement of Godthaab, a nine-day, 600-mile journey.

    After catching their first glimpse of Greenland, the voyagers sought shelter for the night in a small fjord. But as they slept, a fierce williwaw struck, and what seemed like a protective corridor became a raging wind tunnel. The shipmates escaped, but could not save Direction from being battered and broken on the rocks.

    N by E, Kent’s written account of this ill-fated cruise was called by one critic, “One of the finest books of adventure written in our time.”

    In July of 1931, Rockwell Kent returned to the polar landscapes he loved.
Kent painting “plein air,” in the open air, Greenland, c.1933
Kent painting “plein air,” in the open air, Greenland, c.1933
“My short visit to Greenland had filled me with a longing to spend a winter there, to see and experience the far north at its spectacular worst, to know the people and share their way of life.”

    Kent traveled to Ubekendt Island off the western coast of Greenland, 225 miles above the Arctic Circle. Here he settled in Igdlorssuit, a village of less than 200 sturdy souls.

“As I look out over the settlement from my window, Igdlorssuit is like a stage upon which the epic drama of the lives of the people deploys unendingly. There, seen in sunlight and shadow, rain and snow, wind and calm, the people come out of their houses and perform their parts.”

    Kent recounted his time amongst the peace-loving, communal Greenlanders, in Salamina, a memoir dedicated to his wife, Frances, but named in honor of his housekeeper and mistress.
Rockwell and Frances Kent in Greenland, c.1930
Rockwell and Frances Kent in Greenland, c.1930
(Photographic print: b&w; 8 x 10 cm. Courtesy of the Rockwell Kent papers,
ca. 1840-1993, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.)
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Thumbnail ImageGreenland Child, c.1930
watercolor
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.1.19]
Thumbnail ImageHighways (Greenland), 1933-37
oil on canvas mounted on panel
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.1.14]
Thumbnail ImageDogs Resting, Greenland, 1933-37
oil on canvas mounted on panel
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton in Memory of John Gorton
[X1980.1.130]
Thumbnail ImageGodhavn, 1934
oil on canvas mounted on panel
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
[X1978.1.2]
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