The Home Decorator And Color Guide, Rockwell Kent, Sherwin Williams 1939. PSAW ephemera collections
Rockwell Kent, artist, author, adventurer, illustrator and political activist, might have been the most famous artist hired by Sherwin Williams for their catalogs. This is arguably their most famous catalog. Printed in 1939, it is filled with lavish Rockwell Kent illustrations and prose.
"The Rockwell Kent Gallery and Collection of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York, contains the most complete and balanced collection of Rockwell Kent's work in the United States. The gallery, located in the Feinberg Library, and the Feinberg Library Special Collections provide an excellent overview of the art, literary merit and political beliefs of Kent, and affords an unusual resource to scholars and students of twentieth century American art and of Rockwell Kent's growth as an artist and advocate for social justice"
Kent also experimented with reverse painting under glass, some of which are at Plattsburg. Someday soon I will take the ferry across Lake Champlain and pay a visit.
The copy in this entire catalog is by Kent, who, in addition to studying painting, studied architecture at Columbia University:
"Half of the lives of most of us are spent a home. And HOME is what 'the woman' makes the house we live in to be. Good architecture, good taste in decoration, may be reduced to this: A good house is a house where people can be happy."
"I have slept in the bed of the King Of Bulgaria and I have slept in warm reindeer skins on the hard ice of the frozen arctic sea. Tents, caves, shacks, lean-to's, barns, abandoned tenements; old wrecks of houses, brand new houses, little houses, big ones, clear up to the scale to palaces - and down again. Where it has been my right to fix such dwelling places up - if only for a transient stay - to fix them, make them be like home, I have. That's been a passion of my life. And if i were to declare which home of those I've had I've loved the most, I'd say: the one that's still unfinished"
Rockwell Kent, Sherwin Williams, 1939. PSAW ephemera collections
"Who of us, looking back to childhood, doesn't recall the houses that we built of chairs and tables hung about with shawls? How wonderful it was to crawl into them, close the door, and sit there all cramped up, breathing their fetid air in glamorous twilight. Our parents home was for a time in life, to us, a vast, impersonal world. We built to shut it out, and later in the larger world we were to build those refuges from the impersonal and vast which we call HOME."
Notice the books on the shelf. They are all by Kent:
"The old house farther out from town around the bay, being in no degree a mansion, was more inviting to the style of living which I thought our fifty Dollars a month might comfortably yield the five of us- a style to which, to tell the truth, we were accustomed. The house, they said, had not been lived in for fully twenty years; and through what weather and bad boys had done, I didn't question it. But it had style....I scraped and smoothed its weather beaten boards, filled them and painted them. Old lilac bushed stood around the house, their background was the bay; lilac and blue and a green hillside bright with dandelions; and the house - pure white. The doors I painted peacock green -all except one which, for the fun of it I painted pink. So far, so good.
"then one day I discovered an old ship's figure head in somebody's back - yard. It was a girl - of course- they mostly are- but quite forlorn, impoverished and unkempt. I couldn't buy her so I borrowed her. I washed and scraped and sanded her; I painted her skin an ivory white, put roses in her cheeks, made her hair and eyebrows black, penciled her eyes; I hung gold pendants from her ears and a necklace around her throat; I clothed her in splendor. Ad so that all people would love to come to our house, Iput her up over the front door from where she looked out day and night over that sea which had once been her world. Yet my bedizing her was her undoing; Years later, going upon some errand into a fashionable antique shop in New York, I saw her once again. She wore the gown, roses, jewels I had given her. She was for sale, and I was poor. She cut me dead."