Illustration of a man sleeping in a canoe

In the 1920s and 1930s Rockwell Kent was the most celebrated author-artist in the United States. His paintings reflected the influences of Thoreau and Emerson and the Transcendentalists and his first book, Wilderness, published in 1920, was described by the New Statesman of London as “easily the most remarkable book to come out of America since Leaves of Grass was published” 65 years earlier.

Kent was an acclaimed fine artist and a successful commercial artist: his paintings hung in major museums, and he also designed hundreds of bookplates for individuals and logos and advertisements for commercial ventures. He became an American explorer, moving for years at a time to remote areas in Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, Greenland, and elsewhere. He wrote and illustrated books of his own explorations, illustrated others’ books, designed and illustrated the first book printed by the fledgling publishing company Random House, and eventually created lines of illustrated ceramics, designed illustrated fabrics, experimented with bronze works, and for a time had a line of silk scarves with his illustrations from Moby Dick. Working from his farm in upstate New York, Kent’s art and writing touched millions around the globe. His works – based in American values and allied with American aspirations – were highly valued: Kent became an early example of “branding” in American culture and commerce.

In the 1930s Kent, like many other American writers and artists, embraced the ideals of the young revolutionary workers’ paradise, the Soviet Union, envisioning a democratic state that exalted the common man. Later, as a result of the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Kent’s allegiance to left-wing politics alienated him from mainstream U.S. culture and he and his work fell out of favor. In the 1950s, he found difficulty finding a publisher for his new work and couldn’t even give his paintings away when he tried to. At the same time, an exhibition of his work in Russia drew hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic visitors. In 1960, Kent gave 80 paintings, 800 drawings, and all his manuscripts to Russia.

2-page spread from Kent's Candide

This collection, assembled by Robert and Donna Jackson of Shaker Heights, Ohio, is likely the finest collection of Kent’s works in private hands in the U.S. It includes original material – a Greenland sketchbook, original art, letters, and several short manuscripts and one long one – as well as examples of Kent’s work in virtually every field and medium, including rare and one-of-a-kind pieces, such as Kent’s own handcolored copy of the sheets of the first Random House book, Candide by Voltaire, with the erotic illustration that was suppressed in publication. The collection represents a rich vein of the American artistic and cultural heritage, linking the pastoral ideals of the 19th century to the politics and technological landscapes of the 20th.

Illustration of a man reading a book at a table in a log cabin

The Robert and Donna Jackson collection of Rockwell Kent is probably the largest collection in private hands today, with numerous rare or one-of-a-kind artifacts and examples of Kent’s work showing the range and breadth of his artistic and commercial impact, a resource with enormous historical, scholarly and research value.

The complete inventory is available as a PDF document.

Price available on request. Contact Ken Lopez Bookseller at 1-413-584-4827 or

Illustration from Kent's Canterbury Tales