Friday 3 February 2012

Norman Rockwell

Everyone's heard of the phrase "It's as American as apple pie."  When talking about Americana, one could also say "It's as American as Norman Rockwell."  Born on February 3, 1894, Norman Rockwell dreamed of painting covers for the Saturday Evening Post.  He submitted "Boy with Baby Carriage" in 1916 to the magazine, starting a relationship that would last 47 years and include 300 covers.  In his lifetime, Rockwell painted 4000 paintings, often using children as his subjects, although he also painted adults and adult themes. 

A look at a Norman Rockwell gallery is a look at the 20th Century history of America.  It starts with "Excuse My Dust", the painter's portrayal of an early automobile in 1920.  He painted "Wonders of Radio" in 1922 to highlight Marconi's invention.  Charles Lindbergh's Flight shows the aviator's first trans-Atlantic flight in the 1930's.  Next came Rosie the Riveter, focussing on women wartime factory workers in 1943.  "War Bond" helped sell war bonds to America in 1944.  Another invention was illustrated in 1949 with "New TV Set".  Rockwell's religious upbringing influenced his painting "Saying Grace" from 1951.

"Choir Boy" from 1954 has beautiful colours.  With another child as his subject, he painted "Before the Shot", a little boy getting a needle in the doctor's office, in 1958.  "The Problem We All Live With", about the integration of a young black girl into an all white school accompanied by the National Guard, focusses on Civil Rights.  The following year Rockwell painted Southern Justice:  Murder in Mississippi which I suspect is about the slaying of the four white Civil Rights activists.  Lastly, Rockwell's Christian faith was evident again in his piece "Uneasy Christmas in the Birthplace of Christ (Christmas Eve in Bethlehem)" from 1970.

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