June 13, 2018

Artist Profile: Norman Rockwell

By:
Lark Mason III

Norman Rockwell, born in New York City in 1894, is one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century. Dismissed by critics in his lifetime, Rockwell’s works have found a resurgence in popularity in America’s artistic catalogue raisonné. There are many reasons that he remains present in Americans minds, but the most likely reason is one he himself professed. “Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.”—Norman Rockwell

Beginning in 1916, Rockwell illustrated covers for the Saturday Evening Post for 47 years. His paintings were as much a part of the fabric of American’s lives as popular culture icons are today. His paintings have influenced some of the greatest of American movie producers and directors in the 20th century. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas count themselves among collectors of his work (1), and several scenes from Forrest Gump are based on various Norman Rockwell paintings (2). Exhibitions have been mounted at almost all of the major American museums and have found a place in the hearts of all Americans. While some would view Rockwell as a cultural relic, his works still remain relevant today. With his stirring painting of Ruby Bridges shown at a meeting with her and President Obama in 2011 and his traveling exhibitions selling out around the country.

His works are highly sought after with paintings fetching prices in the tens of millions of dollars, the below work selling on the public market for 8.1 million dollars in 2018.

Rockwell, Blacksmith's Boy - Heel and Toe, Oil on Canvas, 1940.

In 1943, Norman Rockwell’s studio in Arlington, Vermont burned down. Many of his works were destroyed in this unfortunate event. While many works on paper have been lost over the last century, there remain those carefully cared for in private collections or those of institutions, that are accessible to collectors. These works are available to collectors of more modest means as well as those more seasoned collectors seeking to expand their collection. 

1 https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2009/11/norman-rockwell-200911/amp

2 http://www.artnet.com/artists/norman-rockwell/All Saturday evening post covers:http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/sections/art-entertainment/norman-rockwell-art-entertainment“