NORMAN ROCKWELL …an American Treasure
No one of my age can forget the covers of “Life” magazine that were so lovingly illustrated by Norman Rockwell from the years of 1916 through 1942. There were over 321 of them.
Last month I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in his home town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts and what a treat it was to see the originals. I experienced a gamut of emotions as I studied his paintings...a feeling of pride for “The Four Freedoms”, a chuckle or two at his wry humor and a loud guffaw at the many faces depicting the cover, “The Gossip”.
The picture above is a self portrait of the artist faced with the dilemma of a deadline and no idea what to paint. As Rockwell himself explained, “It was in agony of soul that this cover was done.”
The other picture is the April 24th, 1926 cover. The poor little dog is being ignored by his master and seems very sad about the whole affair. Just another of his paintings that will tug at your heartstrings.
Rockwell started his career at the age of 18 when he became art editor of “Boy’s Life”, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. When he was 22 one of his paintings appeared on the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post” and his career was launched.
There are those who will argue that Norman Rockwell paintings are not “great art” but I contend that his popularity is well deserved. He was a painter for and of the commonplace and his works could be seen across America in books, advertisements, calendars and on the covers of popular magazines such as the “Post”, “Look”, and “Ladies’ Home Journal”.
He loved the ordinary people and he was very concerned with the big issues of his day, such as racism, poverty and social injustice and he put his paint brush where his interests lay. The Norman Rockwell lifestyle may be gone but his paintings will be with us forever.