Lot 64
  • 64

ROCKWELL KENT | Snow Squalls

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Rockwell Kent
  • Snow Squalls
  • signed ROCKWELL KENT and dated 1909 (lower left); also titled SNOW SQUALLS (along the upper tacking edge)
  • oil on canvas
  • 38 1/8 by 44 1/8 inches
  • (96.8 by 112.1 cm)


The artist
William Macbeth Gallery, New York, 1911 (acquired from the above)
Daniel Gallery, New York (acquired from the above)
Otto Wierum, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, 1920s
Private collection (by descent)
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2015


Scott R. Ferris and Ellen Pearce, Rockwell Kent’s Forgotten Landscapes, Camden, Maine, 1998, p. 75, footnote 12, p. 90


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes, Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work has been restored and should be hung in its current condition. The canvas is lined with a non-wax adhesive, which nicely presents the surface. The painting is clean and lightly varnished. All of the retouches are clearly visible under ultraviolet light. They have been added fairly consistently throughout the composition, in order to reduce abrasion that had occurred at some point in the past. It seems that the work was overcleaned, perhaps in an attempt to remove a difficult dirt layer. Nonetheless, the retouches are accurately and sensitively applied, and the work looks well as a result.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Scott R. Ferris and Richard V. West for preparing the following essay:

On April 19, 1911 Rockwell and Kathleen Whiting Kent’s daughter, Kathleen, was born prematurely. With the frail baby and weakened mother both in need of medical attention, Kent sought financial assistance from the art dealer, William Macbeth. Macbeth, who had handled the artist’s work, was then storing some of his paintings. Macbeth offered $500: The artist, in turn, permitted Macbeth to select what he considered to be the financial equivalent. To Kent’s surprise he selected 13 paintings, including many of which were his finest works–among them Afternoon on the Sea (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California), Toiling on the Sea (New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut), Road Breaking and Burial of a Young Man (both, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.) and this painting, Snow Squalls.

Macbeth Gallery acknowledged years later–on June 2, 1930–that they sold many of these paintings to another of Kent’s dealers, Charles Daniel.

In a March 25, 1953 letter to Kent, Eleanor Wierum Hall wrote: “sometime during the 1920s my father, the late Otto Wierum, bought a large landscape of yours, Snow Squalls in the Berkshires, painted from the back of his house in Berkshire [Massachusetts], looking southeast across the snow covered fields and valleys, to the hills beyond.” Kent responded, acknowledging that he and Kathleen had lived with the Wierums’ shortly after they were married. 

The landscape depicted in Snow Squalls, around the Wierum and Whiting homes, is located in the vicinity of Mount Greylock, Massachusetts–near where Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick, which Kent illustrated, to great acclaim, in 1930. Kent recalled the winter scene in his autobiography, It’s Me O Lord, as such: “…Lovely as I was to come to know that landscape to be… in winter, naked, stark, and as though carved in marble. So loving it, loving the glare of sunlight on the snow, loving the blue shadows, loving the forms that cast them and the deeps of space their blue reflected, loving that world in sunshine and under clouds, loving all the world and life and Kathleen, I painted" (It’s Me O Lord, New York, 1955, p. 186). 

Other works from the artist's 1909 series dedicated to the Berkshires include Berkshire Winter (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Snow Fields (Winter in the Berkshires) (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.), and Berkshire Hills (Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts).

This painting will be included in the Annotated Checklist of Paintings by Rockwell Kent currently being prepared by Scott R. Ferris and Richard V. West.