Rockwell Kent, This is My Own - New York State Museum.
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Rockwell Kent, c.1970
Rockwell Kent, c.1970
(Photographic print: b&w; 13 x 18 cm. Courtesy of the Rockwell Kent papers,
ca.1840–1993, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.)

    In his last years, Kent found fewer and fewer reasons to leave Asgaard, his “most real and sacred place.” But he did make several trips to the Soviet Union, the last in 1967 to receive the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples. Granted one last appearance on the international stage, Kent, at age 85, condemned the United States’ intervention in Vietnam, calling it “the most shameful thing that has happened in our country’s history.”

Award ceremony, Lenin Peace Prize, Moscow, 1967
Award ceremony, Lenin Peace Prize, Moscow, 1967

    On a March evening in 1971, three months before his 89th birthday, Kent was sitting in his favorite chair by the fire. “I am very tired,” he told Sally. He leaned forward, trying to pluck petals from the woven floralpatterned rug at his feet, and then fell back.

    Kent’s lengthy obituary appeared on the front page of the New York Times. It catalogued his accomplishments but did not capture his true spirit. In an earlier radio interview, Kent had provided the key in far fewer words:

“I look back on my life as from a mountaintop that I had reached walking through snow. And if I might think that I had covered all of that area below me I’d see my little wandering trail coming across and all the rest is unknown. I know very little. I’ve gotten all that I could get out of life. All I want? No. I want it all. Don’t you?”

    Rockwell Kent is buried at his beloved Asgaard. His resting place is marked by a block of Vermont granite that bears the title of his first autobiography, This Is My Own, taken from “Native Land,” a poem by Walter Scott:

Photo of Kent Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er with him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
Biographical text by Frederick Lewis
Documentary Filmmaker,
Associate Professor at Ohio University
This exhibition was curated by Cecilia M. Esposito
Plattsburgh State Art Museum
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Thumbnail ImageSally Kent, 1967
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
Thumbnail ImageRockwell Kent, 1967
Gift of Sally Kent Gorton
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