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STEPHEN ETNIER: Wherever he found himself in the world— Maine, the tropics, Europe—this artist rendered the local scene with a blend of truth and poetry, painting what he loved. BY CARL LITTLE

Rockwell Kent Bookplate for Stephen Morgan Etnier, 1929.


HE BOOKPLATE THAT ROCKWELL KENT DESIGNED for Stephen Etnier in 1929 shows a man bearing oars—a small canvas and a book tucked under his arm—standing on a rocky ledge, looking out at a flat sea. Two masts prick the clouds gathering on the horizon. Kent captured the young man embarking on a career as a painter—and a sailor. The bookplate’s setting and its details were well chosen. In a few years, the coast would become Etnier’s favorite subject matter. What is more, the artist would spend as much time as possible on a boat, and he would prefer to paint calm waters in the clarity of strong, morning light. And the book under his arm? Perhaps it was W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, the fictional account of Gauguin’s trip to the South Seas, which had spurred Etnier’s wan-

Study for Hurricane Ridge, Harpswell, circa 1970s. Oil on canvas. Private collection.



| April / May 2008 | Issue 99

Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Magazine, April-May 2008