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World Famous Illustrator, Norman Rockwell, the Soul of America

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Self Portrait by Norman Rockwell

Self Portrait by Norman Rockwell

Early Years Of Norman Rockwell

On 3rd February 1898 in New York to Jarvis and Anne Rockwell. He was relatively small and not very athletic, sometimes clumsy. But he would leave an impression on the world about life. Norman had a religious and close-knit family. He and his brother____ would sit at their dining table with their father drawing. His father began reading Charles Dickens to them, leaving Norman enthralled, so he began drawing the characters of Dickens. It would seem as if Norman had been born with a pencil or art brush in his hand.

Norman enrolled in art classes at the New York School of Art. Two years later, he was studying at the National Academy of Design. It wasn't long before he transferred to the Art Students League, studying with Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgmon.

Before he was even sixteen, he painted four Christmas cards for Boy's Life, the publication of the Boy Scouts of America. While he was working for Boy's Life, he received $50 a month pay. In 1916, at the age of twenty-one, he painted his first cover for the Saturday Evening Post. He considered the Post as the "greatest show window in America." For the next forty-seven years, Rockwell would submit 321 illustrations for the covers of the Post.

Boy's Life Magazine

Boy's Life Magazine

Some of Rockell's Best Illustrations

Over his lifetime, Rockwell painted over 4000 illustrations. Among them are:

  • The Willie Gillis Series depicts a man with the rank of private during WWII.
  • The Rosie The Riveter represents women who worked in factories and shipyards during WWII.
  • The Problems We All Live With, depicts the Civil Rights movement. His illustration of Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African American on her way to an all-white school. In 2011, Ruby was invited to the White House by Barack Obama.

Rockwell was commissioned by four presidents to paint their portraits. They were; Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.

Willie Gillis Series

Willie Gillis Series

Rosie The Riveter SeriesThe

Rosie The Riveter SeriesThe

The Problems We All Live With Series

The Problems We All Live With Series

The Four Freedoms Series

The Four Freedoms Series

Rockwell's Techniques

All of Rockwell's paintings involved meticulous planning and staging. First, he would sketch a scene, methodically collect his props, carefully choosing his models. Only then would he choose a photographer to capture the shot he envisions. Then he begins to paint. He had a keen eye for detail, and it shows in all his work.

Sales Of Rockwell's Work

Rockwell is universally collected and to own one of his original is unique. In 2000 his Breaking Home sold at Sotheby's for 15.4 million dollars. Then in 2013, his Saving Grace sold for 46 million dollars.

1954 Breaking Home

1954 Breaking Home

1951 Saving Grace

1951 Saving Grace

Rockwell's Private Life

Rockwell married three times. First, he married Irene O'Conner in 1916 but divorced by 1930. This traumatized Rockwell; he left for California to 'reset' himself. He met his second wife, Mary Barstow, and married her in 1930. Together they had three children, Jarvis, Thomas, and Peter. Mary had taken ill, and the family moved to Stockbridge, Massuchutes, to receive treatment at the Riggs Hospital. Suddenly in 1959, Mary died of a heart attack.

In 1961, Rockwell married for the third and last time Mary "Molly" Punderson. She died in 1978. Both Mary Barstow and Mary "Molly" Punderson are buried alongside Norman in Stockbridge Cemetery.

Not long after Molly's death, he and his son worked on Rockwell's autobiography, My Adventures As An Illustrator. It soon became a best seller. His book shows his humorous side along with his humility. It is complete with 138 illustrations and is a treasure trove of the vman himself.

Short Timeline Of Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was a workaholic devoting his life to perfection in his illustrations. In 1973 Rockwell set up a trust to preserve his artistic legacy placing his works in the custody of Old Corner House, Stockbridge Historical Society. Later it became the Rockwell Museum, 9 Glendale Rd., Rte 183, Stockbridge, Mass. In 1976with his health declining, he arranged for his studio and all its contents to be added to the trust.

The Rockwell Museum is open year-round and it has his working tools, easels, drawings, sketches, and even some of his props.

In 1939 he received the Silver Bullet Award, the highest award of the Boy's Scouts of America. And, in 1977, he received the Medal of Freedom from the White House. An article in the New YorkTimes, it wrote, "the work of Rockwell was on a par with Mark Twain's novels and significance of American life.

Critics considered Rockwell to be 'too rural" and not a serious painter. Yet, he was the most famous illustrator and painter, giving the public a mirror into the very heart of America. Without one even seeing the signature of his paintings, he was quickly identified by the sheer simplicity of his work.

Timeline of Norman Rockwell

Timeline of Norman Rockwell

Sources Used

  • https://www.christies.com/features/15things-to-know-about-normaneockwell-8714-laspx
  • https://www.biography.com/artist/norman-rockwell
  • https://www.britiannica.com/biography/norman-rockwell
  • https:www./illustrationhistory.org/artists/norman-rockwell
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/normanrockwell

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