Norman Rockwell – American 1894-1978

Norman Rockwell photo

Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was an American painter and illustrator. His works have a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over nearly five decades. Among the best-known of Rockwell's works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter, The Problem We All Live With, Saying Grace, and the Four Freedoms series. He is also noted for his 64-year relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), during which he produced covers for their publication Boys' Life, calendars, and other illustrations. These works include popular images that reflect the Scout Oath and Scout Law such as The Scoutmaster, A Scout is Reverent and A Guiding Hand, among many others.

Norman Rockwell was a prolific artist, producing more than 4,000 original works in his lifetime. Most of his works are either in public collections, or have been destroyed in fire or other misfortunes. Rockwell was also commissioned to illustrate more than 40 books, including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as well as painting the portraits for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, as well as those of foreign figures, including Gamal Abdel Nasser and Jawaharlal Nehru. His portrait subjects included Judy Garland. One of his last portraits was of Colonel Sanders in 1973. His annual contributions for the Boy Scouts calendars between 1925 and 1976 (Rockwell was a 1939 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest adult award given by the Boy Scouts of America), were only slightly overshadowed by his most popular of calendar works: the "Four Seasons" illustrations for Brown & Bigelow that were published for 17 years beginning in 1947 and reproduced in various styles and sizes since 1964. He painted six images for Coca-Cola advertising. Illustrations for booklets, catalogs, posters (particularly movie promotions), sheet music, stamps, playing cards, and murals (including "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "God Bless the Hills", which was completed in 1936 for the Nassau Inn in Princeton, New Jersey) rounded out Rockwell's œuvre as an illustrator.

Rockwell's work was dismissed by serious art critics in his lifetime. Many of his works appear overly sweet in the opinion of modern critics, especially the Saturday Evening Post covers, which tend toward idealistic or sentimentalized portrayals of American life. This has led to the often-deprecatory adjective, "Rockwellesque". Consequently, Rockwell is not considered a "serious painter" by some contemporary artists, who regard his work as bourgeois and kitsch. Writer Vladimir Nabokov stated that Rockwell's brilliant technique was put to "banal" use, and wrote in his book Pnin: "That Dalí is really Norman Rockwell's twin brother kidnapped by Gypsies in babyhood". He is called an "illustrator" instead of an artist by some critics, a designation he did not mind, as that was what he called himself.

In his later years, however, Rockwell began receiving more attention as a painter when he chose more serious subjects such as the series on racism for Look magazine. One example of this more serious work is The Problem We All Live With, which dealt with the issue of school racial integration. The painting depicts a young black girl, Ruby Bridges, flanked by white federal marshals, walking to school past a wall defaced by racist graffiti. This painting was displayed in the White House when Bridges met with President Barack Obama in 2011.

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Norman Rockwell's Treasury for Fathers by Norman Rockwell Family Agency Inc., Susan Homer (Editor) – Hardcover: 224 pages; Harry N. Abrams (May 14, 2013)

In the tradition of the bestselling Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book and Norman Rockwell’s Spirit of America, this third book in Abrams’ Norman Rockwell series will focus on “dear ol’ Dad.” Like the previous books in the series, it pairs Rockwell’s illustrations with songs, poetry, short stories, and excerpts from novels, all of which convey the spirit of fatherhood.

Norman Rockwell's Spirit of America by Susan Homer – Hardcover: 224 pages; Harry N. Abrams (Oct 1, 2011)

Norman Rockwell’s Spirit of America is an original collection of Rockwell paintings accompanied by classic American poems, stories, and songs that showcase the true spirit of America. In the tradition of the bestselling Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book, this compilation features Rockwell’s beloved illustrations of American towns, families, and more, all culled from the extensive Rockwell archive.

Norman Rockwell: 332 Magazine Covers by Christopher Finch – Hardcover: 376 pages; Abbeville Press (Oct 1, 1997)

Rockwell helped preserve American myths, but, more than that, he recreated them and made them palatable for new generations. His function was to reassure people, to remind them of old values in times of rapid change.

Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas S. Buechner – Hardcover: 328 pages; Harry N. Abrams (Sep 1, 1996)

Outstanding reproductions of more than six hundred of Rockwell's finest illustrations and paintings highlight a close-up look at the artist and his graphic record of nearly sixty years of American social history.

Norman Rockwell's World of Scouting by William Hillcourt – Hardcover: 157 pages; Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (Nov 1, 1977)

Rockwell's sixty-year association with the Boy Scouts of America is revealed in paintings and drawings of jamborees, camping and hiking trips, fund-raising drives, craft demonstrations, and parades.

The Norman Rockwell Treasury by Thomas S. Buechner – Hardcover: 216 pages; Galahad Books; Reissue edition (Sep 1, 2004)

Thomas S. Buechner, a distinguished former director of the Brooklyn Museum, examines Rockwell’s style, technique, and development, placing him in perspective as an important force in 20th-century art.

Rockwell by Karal Ann Marling – Hardcover: 96 pages; Taschen (Mar 3, 2020)

This book brings together key paintings and illustrations from his celebratory and sunny portfolio, as well as some more unusual works tackling the underside of the United States, to understand an integrally American artist, and the values and ideals that shaped his success.

Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book by Molly Rockwell – Hardcover: 222 pages; Harry N. Abrams (Sep 30, 1993)

A collection of stories, poems, and carols by William Shakespeare, Ogden Nash, Hans Christian Andersen, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and others complement the paintings of Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post by Starkey Flythe, Donald Stoltz, Marshall Stoltz – Hardcover: 672 pages; Fine Communications (Jul 1, 1997)

This is a stunning collection of Norman Rockwell illustrations from The Saturday Evening Post from 1916-1971. There are 323 treasured Saturday Evening Post covers reproduced in their original full size and full color.

Who Was Norman Rockwell? by Sarah Fabiny, Who HQ, Gregory Copeland (Illustrator) – Paperback: 112 pages; Penguin Workshop (Apr 2, 2019) Best Seller

Over the course of his lifetime, he painted 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. Of his work, he has said: "Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn't the perfect place I thought it to be, I consciously decided that if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it."

Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book by Norman Rockwell – Hardcover: 224 pages; Abrams Books; Revised, updated edition (Nov 1, 2009) Best Seller

Originally published by Abrams in 1977, Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book is a holiday classic that has remained a bestselling family treasure for over 30 years. With over 85 images from Norman Rockwell's archive of art, this fully redesigned edition brings a fresh, contemporary appeal to the original vintage volume.

Best of Norman Rockwell by Tom Rockwell – Hardcover: 136 pages; Running Press Adult; New edition (Sep 27, 2005)

Norman Rockwell's son, Tom, has put together the absolute finest collection of his father's bounteous body of work, illustrations that bespeak the golden glow of pre- and post-WWII Americana. Rockwell senior, who said he depicted life “as I would like it to be,” chronicled iconic visions of American life: the Thanksgiving turkey, soda fountains, ice skating on the pond, and small-town boys playing baseball-not to mention the beginning of the civil rights movement.

Now, the best-selling collection of Rockwell's most beloved illustrations, organized by decade, is available in a refreshed edition. With more than 150 images-oil paintings, watercolors, and rare black-and-white sketches--this is an uncommonly faithful Rockwell treasury.

Norman Rockwell & the Saturday Evening Post by Marshall Stoltz, Donald Stoltz –

Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more.

Norman Rockwell's American Fisherman by Rh Value Publishing – Hardcover: 125 pages; Crescent (Apr 1, 1990)

125 pages, fully illustrated.

Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People by Norman Rockwell, Maureen Hart Hennessey, Judy L. Larson – Hardcover: 200 pages; Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (Nov 1, 1999)

A companion volume to the first major traveling exhibition of Norman Rockwell's work includes analysis by major art historians, culture critics, and psychologists, as well as 120 illustrations from the master illustrator of Americana.

Capturing the Moment in Oils by Sara Jackson – Paperback: 64 pages; Dover Publications (March 17, 2017) Best Seller

Thirty-one illustrations by Norman Rockwell appear in all their heartwarming glory in this classic and collectible coloring book. Handpicked from the hundreds of covers that the American legend created for The Saturday Evening Post, these ready-to-color pictures recapture the bliss of bygone days.

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg by Virginia Mecklenburg, Todd McCarthy – Hardcover: 252 pages; Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (Jul 1, 2010)

Telling Stories, based on the Rockwell collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, is the first book to chart the connections between Rockwell’s iconic depictions of American life and the movies

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick – Hardcover: 224 pages; Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (Oct 22, 2009)

Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is the first book to explore the meticulously composed and richly detailed photographs that Norman Rockwell used to create his famous artworks.

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