Norman Rockwell (2/3/1894
Rockwell was born in New York City in 1894. He attended
the New York School of Art at the age of 14 and
he had already earned a commission for four Christmas
card oil paintings by the age of 16. He also studied
at the National Academy of Design and at the Art
Students League, where he was taught by Thomas Fogarty
and George Bridgman.
first major breakthrough came in 1912 at age 18
with his first book illustration for C.H. Claudy's
"Tell Me Why: Stories about Mother Nature".
During his lifetime he illustrated over 40 more
books including the ever-popular "Tom Sawyer
and Huckleberry Finn".
his career, Rockwell produced illustrations for
the "Nicholas Magazine", the Boy Scouts
of America publication "Boys' Life", and
other juvenile publications. By the age of 19, he
was working as an art director for "Boy's Life".
submitted his first successful cover painting to
the "Post" at the age of 22. "Boy
with Baby Carriage" was published on May 20,
1916 and was followed by 321 more covers over the
next 47 years. Rockwell's success on the cover of
the "Post" led to covers for over 80 other
magazines, most notably "The Literary Digest",
"The Country Gentleman", "Leslie's",
"Judge", "Peoples Popular Monthly"
and "Life" magazine.
In 1943, during the Second World War, Rockwell painted
the "Four Freedoms". The series was inspired
by a speech made by Franklin D. Roosevelt on January
16, 1941. In his speech, he had declared that there
were four principles for universal rights: Freedom
from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship,
and Freedom from Fear. The paintings were first
published by "The Saturday Evening Post"
in four consecutive issues. The pictures became
extremely popular and reprints of the covers were
sold in vast quantities.
Treasury Department promoted war bonds by exhibiting
the original "Four Freedoms" paintings
in 16 cities. The paintings were seen by 1,222,000
people who purchased over $133,000,000 in war bonds.
Later, posters were made from the paintings and
distributed as an incentive for war bond purchases.
No paintings by any other American artist were ever
published on such a global scale. One version of
his "Freedom of Speech" painting is in
the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
and the preliminary study for "Freedom of Speech"
set an auction record at $407,000.
Rockwell and his son, Thomas, wrote his autobiography,
"My Adventures as an Illustrator", in
1960. The "Post" printed excerpts from
this book in eight consecutive issues, the first
containing Rockwell's famous "Triple Self-Portrait"
on the cover. His last painting for the "Post"
was published in 1963. He spent the next 10 years
painting for "Look" magazine, where his
work depicted his interests in civil rights, poverty
and space exploration.
Rockwell was commissioned to paint portraits for
Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon,
as well as other world figures, including Gamal
Abdel Nasser and Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1977 he received
the Presidential Medal of Freedom for "vivid
and affectionate portraits of our country",
the United States of America's highest civilian
honor. Rockwell was also a recipient of the Silver
Buffalo Award, the highest adult award given by
the Boy Scouts of America.
long career, Rockwell produced illustrations for
booklets, catalogs, posters (particularly movie
promotions), sheet music, stamps, playing cards,
and murals (including "Yankee Doodle Dandy",
which was completed in 1936 for the Nassau Inn in
Princeton, New Jersey). He also made annual contributions
for the Boy Scouts' calendars (1925 – 1976).
He painted the very popular "Four Seasons"
Calendar illustrations for Brown & Bigelow,
which continues to be reproduced in various styles
Norman Rockwell painted over 2000 original works
in his lifetime, but many were destroyed by fire.
He is most famous for his "Saturday Evening
Post" cover illustrations. For four decades
his illustrations mirrored life in the early 20th
century, celebrating ordinary Americans at work
and at play. He painted the America he knew and
considered himself a storyteller.
died at the age of 84.
Museum has custodianship of 574 of his original
paintings and drawings. Norman Rockwell's Stockbridge
studio was also moved to the site and is open to
the public between May and October every year. The
studio and its contents include the artist's materials
and equipment; his personal art library of approximately
500 volumes; furnishings; decorative objects; ethnographic
objects collected on his travels; mementos; hundreds
of prints; and artwork sent by fans and admirers.
You can visit the Norman Rockwell Museum at 9 Glendale
Road, Route 183, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.