Last week I went to the Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. There is a huge wall of The Saturday Evening Post covers and many original finished paintings and studies to compare them with. I was slightly surprised by the variation in scale, which had nothing to do with his age or time-line of artworks: some were very small and incredibly detailed, going right through to a single life-sized figure painted relatively crudely on a coarser canvas. A interesting show on the whole, which runs until March 27.
Rockwell’s paintings were recognized and loved by almost everybody in America. The cover of The Saturday Evening Post was his showcase for over forty years, giving him an audience larger than that of any other artist in history. Over the years he depicted there a unique collection of Americana, a series of vignettes of remarkable warmth and humor. In addition, he painted a great number of pictures for story illustrations, advertising campaigns, posters, calendars, and books.
As his personal contribution during World War II, Rockwell painted the famous "Four Freedoms" posters, symbolizing for millions the war aims as described by President Franklin Roosevelt. One version of his "Freedom of Speech" painting is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1943 Freedom of Speech
Rockwell left high school to attend classes at the National Academy of Design and later studied under Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman at the Art Students League in New York. His early illustrations were done for St. Nicholas magazine and other juvenile publications. He sold his first cover painting to the Post in 1916 and ended up doing over 300 more. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson sat for him for portraits, and he painted other world figures, including Nassar of Egypt and Nehru of India.
1960 John F Kennedy
In 1957 the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington cited him as a Great Living American, saying that..."Through the magic of your talent, the folks next door - their gentle sorrows, their modest joys - have enriched our own lives and given us new insight into our countrymen."
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts has established a large collection of his paintings, and has preserved Rockwell's last studio as well.
1943 Freedom of Worship
1943 Freedom from Fear
1943 Freedom from Want
1929 The Doctor and the Doll
1943 Rosie the Riveter
Girl with a Black Eye
1964 The Problem we all Live With
After the Prom
Girl at Mirror
Willie and Gillis