Oil on canvas
33 1/2 x 43 3/4 in. (86.4 x 111.8 cm)
Inscribed lower right:
© Rockwell Kent U.A.A. 1941
Descended through the family
(Larcada Gallery, 1974)
North Star Borough Public Library, Fairbanks, Alaska
Considerable confusion has arisen over this painting and a similar one titled “Summer Night.” “Northern Night” is dated 1941 by the artist. There are no signs of altering the compositional elements; no painted over, earlier signature; no signs of the canvas having been adhered to board–like many of his oils on canvas that were painted in Alaska in 1918-1919, rolled up to be shipped home, then rolled out and adhered to board back at his home studio. “Northern Night,” like the painting “Wake Up!” (1941), was painted in time for the artist’s mammoth, 1942-1943 nationally touring exhibition, “Know and Defend America.” (In his catalogue entry for “Wake Up!” Kent writes: “This was painted six months ago.”)
In art critic Royal Cortissoz’s review of “Know and Defend America” (“Rockwell Kent and Divers Others.” New York Herald Tribune, February [?], 1942), he mistitles the painting, “Northern Light.” It is also mistitled, “Summer Night,” in “Rockwell Kent: An Anthology of His Work” (Alfred A. Knopf. 1982). However, it is properly titled in the “Know and Defend America” catalogue, and in the American Artists Group monograph on Kent (1945).
To add to the confusion, the title “Northern Night” has been misapplied to the similar painting, “Summer Night, Alaska” (See Christie’s, 5/24/95, lot #99).
Furthermore, Kent, himself, seems to obfuscate the matter when, in his letter to Hans Hinrichs (July 15, 1965), he writes: “I, too, like ‘Northern Night’ and even before you obtained the painting I had begun a kind of replica of it which occasionally I still attempt to work on.” More on this in the entry for “Summer Night.”