Rockwell Kent - James Fitzgerald House & Studio

James Fitzgerald, b 1899- d 1971, Rockwell Kent, b 1882- d 1971, Alice Kent Stoddard, b 1883- d 1976
James Fitzgerald Legacy, Monhegan Museum of Art & History, 1 Lighthouse Hill , Monhegan Island, ME 04852 - view on Google Maps
207-596-7003
“a piece of the Solar System’s planet Earth, in the universe of the heavens ”
—Rockwell Kent
Monhegan has been an artists’ destination since the 1850s, and in the early 1900s Rockwell Kent built a house and studio, owned later by James Fitzgerald. The studio represents work practice of three significant artists, having also been used by Alice Kent Stoddard, and the sites serve as touchstones to Monhegan’s multi-generational art colony.

ABOUT

Kent referred with spiritual fervor to this site as “a piece of the Solar System’s planet Earth, in the universe of the heavens,” describing its power of place—where visitors now experience firsthand this impact, visualize what these artists sought to capture, and tour the studio where their art was created.

Monhegan has been an artist colony ever since Aaron Draper Shattuck painted here in 1858. The power of place extends to the entire island and the narrative of why artists have chosen to come to this remote location. Monhegan has one of the oldest land trusts in the nation, preserving approximately 70% of the island, including the land adjoining the house and studio. Hiking trails follow along the highest cliffs of the eastern shoreline of the United States. These headlands have inspired countless artists, including Henri, Hopper, Bellows, and three generations of Wyeths.

Rockwell Kent designed, built, and used both structures. Kent’s importance in 20th century American art is well known. Here Kent not only created some of his best known works (e.g. Winter, Monhegan Island [1907], Metropolitan Museum of Art), but also recognized and first fully expressed his nascent political beliefs and socialism. The house is interpreted much as it appeared in Kent’s first sojourn, 1906-1910, with his period furnishings, allowing us to tell the story of Kent’s Monhegan experience and its influence on his life’s work.

Alice Kent Stoddard, a portrait artist and landscape painter, lived in and used the studio from 1912 until 1946. Her tenure is representative of many of the woman artists who have lived and painted on Monhegan, and her work is regularly displayed at the Monhegan Museum.

James Fitzgerald first came to Monhegan in 1924 as an art student, and moved here in 1943. He was not a plein air artist. Observing his subject matter outdoors, he returned to the studio to recreate images from a mental template. The studio largely appears the way it did when he walked out the door shortly before his death, allowing us to tell the story not only of his life, but his artistic process, while presenting rotating exhibitions of his work.

Did you know...?

In 1907, Kent was told by the island’s villagers that now that he had “a nest” he needed a “bird” and therefore he went inshore to bring back his “bride.” “She” turned out to be his friend George Putnam of the publishing fortune, the future husband of aviator Amelia Earhart.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

The Kent – Fitzgerald HAHS buildings contain artwork, archives, furnishings, and collections as follows:

Artwork - 606 works by Fitzgerald are part of the Legacy collection. Each summer, selections of watercolor and oil paintings are displayed in both the house and studio. Over 280 preliminary works on paper are housed in the studio flat-files and are available for viewing. Two Kent ink drawings are regularly on display in the house.

Furnishings - most furnishings in the house date to Kent’s first stay, including his piano, rocking chair, Victorian settee, antique clock, and writing desk.

The house contains Fitzgerald’s extensive library as well as archives from both the artist and his heirs.

The studio contains Fitzgerald’s artist materials including brushes, carved models, paints, palettes, unused Whatman papers, and framing and gilding materials (including gold and silver leaf and tools).

Ephemera, including household items.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Studio hours to view artwork by James Fitzgerald.
  • House guided tour featuring Kent’s period furnishings and additional Fitzgerald artwork.
  • Visit Monhegan Museum - The Monhegan Lighthouse Keeper’s House contains exhibits of Monhegan’s history. The Assistant Keeper’s House has an art gallery that displays annual art exhibitions featuring the museum’s art collection, which spans more than 150 years.
  • Monhegan Associates Land Trust - 17 miles of hiking trails along the scenic coastline and headlands, and in the Cathedral Woods.