Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), an American artist was born in Tarrytown, New York, was well educated in art. He did his first significant work at Monhegan Island, Maine. Later he traveled widely, doing other landscape and seascape work in Newfoundland, Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland. He also did a great deal of work illustrating working people, serving as an illustrator for The Masses, a popular left-wing magazine.
Approached in 1926 by publisher R. R. Donnelley to produce an illustrated edition of Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, Kent suggested Moby Dick instead. Published in 1930, the deluxe edition sold out immediately; a lower-priced Random House edition became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. A previously obscure book, Moby Dick was rediscovered by critics in the 1920s. The success of the Rockwell Kent illustrated edition was a factor in its becoming the recognized classic it is today.
Kent was active in left-wing politics. In 1939, Kent joined the Harlem Lodge of the International Workers Order (IWO), a pro-Communist fraternal organization. A lithograph by Kent became the organization's logo in 1940, and from 1944 to 1953 he served as the organization's President.
He was a victim of McCarthyism during the 1950s. As a devotee of realistic art, he had also fallen from popular favor.