1946 Rockwell Kent ”Land of Peace“ Oil

Value (2011) | $150,000 Auction$250,000 Auction
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APPRAISER:
You brought a painting here that was exhibited in a museum.

GUEST:
That's correct, it was on exhibit at the Carnegie Institute at the international exhibition, and our grandmother purchased it in 1946.

APPRAISER:
You know who the artist is?

GUEST:
Yes, Rockwell Kent.

APPRAISER:
Yes. You know what the subject is?

GUEST:
Yes, it's Greenland.

APPRAISER:
And the title?

GUEST:
It's called The Land of Peace.

APPRAISER:
Yeah. Rockwell Kent was an artist who was drawn to these austere places and painted in Tierra del Fuego, painted in the Alps, and also in Greenland, these rocky coasts and large mountainscapes, and that was part of his paintings. And this one here is in Greenland. He was in Greenland, I believe, in the '30s. But this one was, completed in 1946. There's documentation on the back. One of the things you have here with this painting is a letter. Can you tell me about the letter?

GUEST:
It is a letter that was written to our grandmother by Rockwell Kent describing the painting after she purchased it at the Carnegie.

APPRAISER:
Yes, it's an interesting letter. You don't often get these things, but it's a letter from him and it describes everything about this. It tells you about the people and about where it is, down to the latitude and longitude of where he was in Greenland when he painted this.

GUEST:
That's right.

APPRAISER:
But it also has something else here that's very, very important. Kent was known as an avowed communist at a time when it really wasn't very popular. A communist and also a pacifist.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
In fact, many of his paintings were shown in the Soviet Union, and a lot of his works are in Russia because of that. This painting not only embodies that, but also tells you that. One of the things about this painting is, you see these figures here. Figures don't often play a large role, but here he wanted to talk about these figures, and it says so in his letter, and I quote that, he says, "The title, Land of Peace, might apply to Greenland itself." And he talks about the peaceable land. He talks about the people and he says, "I find myself trying to imagine what their judgment "of the 'superior' white race must be "on learning of the periodic mass slaughter and destruction it goes in for." Here you have a comment in 1946, exactly right after World War II, and all the destruction there. So it really tells you a lot about the painting and about the man himself. It's in nice condition, it's on canvas, which is then wrapped around on board, and is tacked on. He might have painted this... it says, "completed in 1946," so he may have taken it unstretched-- and they're easy to pack that way-- and brought it back and then finished it off in the studio in New York. It's interesting that... I'm not sure if this was in the Carnegie International, because it says on the back, "Painting in the United States, 1946," so it may have been a special exhibition that went on. Now, your grandmother purchased it in '46. Do you have any records? We have that, the letter, but do we know what she paid for it at all?

GUEST:
We are not aware of what she paid for it, unfortunately.

APPRAISER:
Now, have you had it appraised at all?

GUEST:
It was appraised a number of years ago within an estate, but not individually.

APPRAISER:
It's one of the best ones I've ever even seen. This is really a top shelf for Rockwell Kent's work. It's attractive, it's a subject matter, but then, what puts it over the top is this letter.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
As such, at auction, if it didn't have the letter, I'd probably say about $100,000 to $150,000. With the letter, I'd put it at about $150,000 to $250,000 as an estimate.

GUEST:
Oh my! That's amazing! That's wonderful! Thank you.

APPRAISER:
It's just a super thing.

GUEST:
I like the color.

APPRAISER:
The colors, yeah, the colors are nice. You have the blues, and he picks up the pinks and the reds. Now, I have to ask this question: Do you share this? Does it spend six months of the year in one house and then six months of the year in the other house?

GUEST:
It's been hanging in our house for a while because I have the right spot for it. I visit it all the time.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, NY
New York, NY
Appraised value (2011)
$150,000 Auction$250,000 Auction
Event
Pittsburgh, PA (August 13, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Painting
Material
Oil

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