Jan 28, 2021 - Sale 2556

Sale 2556 - Lot 89

Price Realized: $ 15,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,500 - $ 5,000
ROCKWELL KENT (1882-1971)
"Rockwell / Alaska MCMXVIII" Frontispiece illustration to Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska. Pen and ink on paper. 184x130 mm; 7 1/4x5 1/4 inches, on 13 1/4x10 3/4-inch sheet. Titled and dated in image, initialed in lower left image, and Knoedler catalogue number 42, in Kent's hand, in lower left corner directly below image, "Frontis" penciled along top margin. Image toned, remnants of early (possibly original) mounting glue at corners and far edges. Cornered to window matte and framed.

Provenance: Acquired from descendant of the artist, Patrick Finney to private collection, Los Angeles, 1970; Swann Galleries, September 29, 2016, lot 31; thence to private collection, New York.

The original frontispiece drawing for Kent's famous first illustrated book. Kent created many such drawings of Rocky, along with numerous images of local scenery, and a now famous series of large-scale landscapes in oil during their father-son sojourn to Fox Island, Alaska during 1918-19. There the young artist rented a small cabin on a fox and goat farm to live in solitude and to recover from his troubled marriage and a world at war. In 1920, upon his return, Marie Sterner of Knoedler & Co. Gallery, New York, arranged a show of the Alaska drawings, including this work. There, publishing giant George Palmer Putnam was so impressed that he urged Kent to combine them with his letters and diary entries to create an illustrated narrative of his trip which Putnam published later that year as Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska. The book was published just after the opening of a highly successful second Knoedler show featuring the Alaska paintings. The popularity of the two launched Kent's career and secured a long and successful relationship with Putnam who, on the heels of this first venture, helped him become the first "incorporated artist." The pencil sketch for this drawing is in the Houghton Library collection at Harvard.