This volume presents the first extensive record of the life and work of John Frederick Kensett, one of America's most successful and admired landscape and marine painters of the mid-nineteenth century. His early training as an apprentice in his father's engraving shop was humble, and soon bored by the tedium of the craft, Kensett aspired to a higher vocation, that of a painter. In pursuit of this career, he embarked for Europe in 1840. There his studies of the Old Masters, his constant sketching and exploration of nature, and a close-knit community of artists bolstered his commitment to painting, despite financial hardship.
Success was not long in coming to Kensett, after his return to America in 1847. He followed on the heels of the older generation of Hudson River School landscapists and drew inspiration from the picturesque scenery of his homeland. His views of the Catskills, Adirondacks, White Mountains and Berkshires brought the praise and patronage of critics, fellow artists and collectors. By the 1860s Kensett had turned to the broad expanses of New England's coastline, filling his paintings with a luminosity that enhanced the quiet harmonies of nature. On a more personal level, Kensett also left his mark through his generosity to fellow artists and his untiring efforts to gain professional recognition for art and artists in America, including his service as a founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tragically, his good work on all fronts was cut short by his untimely death in 1872.