Norman Rockwell ‘s work became a mirror reflecting what his home country lived and breathed for half a century. The master worked on his paintings with a director’s method: when an idea was born in his head, he looked for models for posing, carefully selected clothes, thought over the composition. Even the most mundane life stories seem to be shrouded in a romantic veil. Norman Rockwell’s biography is the true embodiment of the American dream. Glory followed on his heels, not lagging behind a single step.
Norman Rockwell portrayed ordinary people with genuine sympathy. Several generations have grown up on his illustrations. The artist’s paintings touch the audience to the core to this day.
Norman Rockwell biography
Norman Rockwell was born in 1894 in New York. His father worked as a manager, his mother was a housewife. As a child, the boy became interested in drawing. The source of inspiration was the books of Charles Dickens: Norman sketched, first in his imagination, and then on paper, the tragic heroes of his novels.
When the young talent turned 14, his parents sent him to the New York School of Art. Rockwell brilliantly completed his first order at the age of 15: it was Christmas cards depicting happy, cheerful people, joyful meetings and warm hugs. A year later, Norman entered the National Academy of Design, then moved to the Students’ League. The aspiring artist was mentored by Thomas Fogarty and George Brant Bridgman.
Education is over, it’s time for a dizzying career.
Already at the age of 19, he is the main artist for Boy’s Life, a fashionable youth magazine. And at 21, Norman opens a studio with cartoonist Victor Clyde Forsythe. Among his customers are Life, Literary Digest and other serious publications. On Clyde’s recommendation, Rockwell was commissioned to design a cover picture for The Saturday Evening Post. This cover was the first of 321 In 1930, Norman Rockwell’s friend invited him to Los Angeles.
The artist was going through a difficult divorce at that time. Rockwell watched the life of Hollywood with curiosity: in front of him were rows of movie stars tired of the attention of the public, he met lively starlets and models. In Los Angeles, Norman met his second wife, who gave him three sons.
The period 1930-1940s turned out to be very fruitful.
Rockwell hired photographers and used their photographs for his works. In 1939, the family moved from New York to Arlington, and the everyday life of the small town became the predominant theme of the master’s work.
In 1943, the artist created the legendary Four Freedoms cycle: he wanted to show the whole world the democratic values for which American soldiers are fighting. Especially successful was “Freedom of Speech” its author considered it the most expressive. The paintings traveled all over America and raised 132 million; the money was donated to the army.
In the same year, Norman Rockwell’s studio in Arlington burned down, and many paintings and props died in the fire. The fire divided the art of the genius of illustration into two parts. After the tragedy, the painter could only work with modern material, he was occupied only by situations and characters that were in tune with the times.
In 1959, his wife Mary died of a heart attack. The artist was confused and devastated, grief interfered with his work. In 1961, he married again, his wife was Molly Penderson, who worked as a teacher before retiring. Norman Rockwell was keenly interested in politics, and one day Dwight David Eisenhower himself invited him to Washington for a reception.
In 1970, the master was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1959, his wife Mary died of a heart attack. The artist was confused and devastated, grief interfered with his work. In 1961, he married again, his wife was Molly Penderson, who worked as a teacher before retiring. Norman Rockwell was keenly interested in politics, and one day Dwight David Eisenhower himself invited him to Washington for a reception. In 1970, the master was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Despite the big buzz, Norman Rockwell remained extremely humble and always led a simple life. In the waning days, he confessed that the secret to longevity lies in work. Each new picture was an interesting adventure: Norman looked forward to the future with hope, never looked back and did not lose his humor.
The most famous paintings by Norman Rockwell
The works of Norman Rockwell are small but vivid stories that tell about the life of the American hinterland. In his works, the author demonstrates the perfect version of the world, full of warmth, devotion and kindness. Among the best paintings by Norman Rockwell:
- Rosie the Riveter (1943) is a cultural icon of the United States. The heroine of the picture contributes to the victory, but at the same time hard work for her is not a reason to give up femininity.
- “Table Prayer” (1951) is a film that conquered the American public. She appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on November 24, 1951. Later, readers chose her as the best image in the entire history of the publication. In 2013, “Table Prayer” was sold at Sotheby’s for 46 million, the buyer remained unknown.
- “The Girl with a Black Eye” (1953) the girl’s shining eyes make it clear that she won the fight. Now the bully is fearlessly waiting to catch up with the headmaster.
- “The Fugitive” (1958) a little tomboy who ran away from home, surrounded by touching care. A policeman talks to him in a fatherly way, urging him to return to his parents; the bartender listens with a good-natured smile to the boy.
- “The problem we all live with” (1964) the viewer seems to be watching from the crowd for Ruby Bridges, a black student of the “white” school. The girl is accompanied by bodyguards.
George Walton Lucas said that as a child, Rockwell’s illustrations had a magical effect on him. Now he collects pictures of his favorite artist. The famous filmmaker donated half a million dollars to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Another devoted fan of Norman’s work is Steven Allan Spielberg, who, together with Lucas, organized an exhibition of works by the master from his private collections.