Rockwell Kent

“I’ve travelled north and south east and west in search of mountain peaks but never until now have I found peaks whose summits reached so near to God as do you men of Donegal.”

Rockwell Kent carrying a chair to his new home in Glenlough.

Dylan Thomas wasn’t the only famous artist to live in Glenlough. In the summer of 1926, the American landscape painter and ‘Moby Dick’ illustrator Rockwell Kent spent several months there.

Rockwell inside his ‘cowshed’ converted to a studio
Rockwell inside his ‘cowshed’ converted to a studio

Kent rented the cottage from the local farmer Dan Ward, which at the time was little more than a cowshed. He converted it to a studio and produced some of his finest work during his brief stay, including Irish Sun, Shipwreck and Dan Ward’s Stack.

Irish Sun, Glenlough (Plattsburgh State Art Museum, New York)

Probably his most memorable painting is that of Annie McGinley, a study of a local woman sunbathing near Port in the next valley.

Annie McGinley

In 1953, Kent, a left wing political activist for most of his life, was summoned before the McCarthy House Committee for Un-American Activities and accused of being a communist. Despite taking the Fifth Amendment, his appearance severely damaged his reputation as an artist and led to a subsequent boycott of his work.

Sturrall, Donegal (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)

Eclipsed by politics and scorned by own country, Kent embraced the Soviet Union to which he subsequently ‘gifted’ much of his work. Today, a number of his Donegal paintings can be viewed at The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia.

Dan Ward’s Stack, Glenlough (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)
Shipwreck, Coast of Ireland (Plattsburgh State Art Museum, New York)


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