Thursday, May 13, 2010

Artist Laureate of America-Norman Rockwell

"I showed the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."
—Norman Rockwell

He was as American as Apple Pie and Uncle Sam! 
Who was he? 

He was, Norman Rockwell,
a reknowned and prolific artist, illustrator and historian 
who held the hearts and imaginations of Americans!

Through the genius of his works of art, Norman Rockwell recreated and interpreted  the essence of American life.  Yes, he painted a swathe of America's on-going history manifested from every day life.  Rockwell's messages, through his art, could be heard more clearly and far more loudly than the spoken word.

Norman was born in New York City in 1894,  and it is said that he always wanted to be an artist.  His first artwork commission, four Christmas cards, were painted before his sixteen birthday.   During his teens and quite incredibly, but oh so believably, he found himself employed as art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America.  This employ established him in the beginnings of a remarkably successful  freelance career illustrating a plethora of young people’s publications.

Following a family move to New Rochelle, NY, Rockwell joined with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe and produced work for such magazines as Literary Digest, Country Gentleman and Life.  During 1916,  22-year-old Rockwell painted his first works for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post!  Through, perhaps, his role as Illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post, he found himself elevated to the best-loved of American Artists!  

Over the ensuing 47 years, 321 more covers by Rockwell would appear on The Saturday Evening Post.

Mr. Rockwell was the father of three sons, Jarvis, Thomas and Peter through his second wife, Mary Barstow, a school teacher.  Norman's first marriage in 1916 to Irene O’Connor, had ended in divorce by 1930.
Norman, with his sons and Mary, moved to Arlington, Vermont, in 1939, and his work  took on the nuances of  American life in the small town.

During the 1940s, Norman produced perhaps some of his most famous and beloved works.  From poignant scenes of Americans at war, and at home to joyous reunions, gatherings, family events and so much more.  From humor to everyay life, he depicted and encapsulated America.

President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1943, moved Mr. Rockwell to paint, the Four Freedoms paintings. These paintings were reproduced in consecutive issuances of The Saturday Evening Post alongside essays by contemporary writers. Rockwell’s renderings of the Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear were incredibly popular. His artist renderings went on  tour throughout America in an exhibition jointly sponsored by the Post and the U.S. Treasury Department.  Through this exhibit and through the sale of war bonds?   More than $130 million was raised for the war effort!  Oh, my stars and stripes, gentle readers!

Despite all of this success,1943 proved to be an enormous loss to the Rockwells. Fire ravished and destroyed his Arlington studio alongside near countless paintings and a myriad collection of historical props and costumes.  In 1954 the family again moved, this time to Stockbridge, MA and within six years he suffered the death of his second wife. 1961, found Rockwell married to Molly Punderson, who was  a retired teacher. In the next two years, he concluded his 47-year collaboration with The Saturday Evening Post and began working for Look magazine.  Rockwell continued onward painting his most sincere and pressing concerns and devotion to include American poverty and civil rights. 

In 1973, Rockwell established a trust to preserve his legacy and his works.  He placed his artistic creations into the fine custody of the Old Corner House Stockbridge Historical Society, now known  as Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge.

  In 1977, Rockwell  was honored
with the nation’s highest civilian honor,
 the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

As life woud have it, a Legend had passed,....gone. 
 November 8, 1978, Norman Rockwell died in his home in Sturbridge, MA.

Norman will be remembered forever through his works.  His very creations are an intrinsic part of all of us!

The world was changed by this Legend, this man
Norman Rockwell.


Hubba, Hubba