Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

An icon of American history, Norman Rockwell is considered to be one of the greatest illustrators of all time. His works, familiar to every American family from their inclusion in national magazines, books and papers, depict quintessential scenes of small-town American life. Whether capturing children at an ice cream parlor, a young girl preparing for her first date, or even a businessman at the simple act of reading the morning paper, Rockwell’s work narrates an idyllic time gone by and reminds us all of our most human elements.

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Norman Rockwell is one of few artists to establish a successful career while only a teenager. He left his New York City high school to pursue professional training at the Chase School of Art around 1908, and by the age of sixteen, he had already sold his first series of Christmas card designs and was working as a storybook illustrator. He furthered his schooling at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League, and was appointed the art director for Boys’ Life magazine at the young age of 19.

Success came quickly for Rockwell, and between 1916 and 1963 he produced 322 cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post. His work also appeared in other national magazines, including This Week, and such children’s periodicals as St. Nicholas, Youth’s Companion, American Boy, and Boy’s Life. In addition, he illustrated calendars for Brown and Bigelow from 1924 until 1976, and painted official portraits while serving in the Navy during World War II.  He is also well known for his powerful Four Freedoms posters, including a version of the Freedom of Speech which is now in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today, the largest collection of Rockwell paintings is housed in the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, his hometown for the last thirty years of his life, which was established in 1969 with the help of the artist and his wife.

References: See Who Was Who In American Art (1999); Henry C. Pitz. 200 Years of American Illustration. New York: Ramdom House, 1977.  

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