Norman Rockwell – by Sandy Wagner

I can’t believe that I almost missed the 3rd. Sunday but with the crashing of the computer-concerts-Christmas planning etc –the bell went off about 20 minutes ago (5:00PM).

As I was growing up my family took “The Saturday Evening Post” and I remember looking forward to the drawing by Rockwell. In 1977 our daughter gave us Norman Rockwell’s America which has the span many years of wonderful work. He was born in 1984 in New York City – his father managed a textile business in NYC – George Woods, Sons and Company. Norman came from a religious family and was a choir boy at St; Luke’s and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The neighborhood that he grew up in was at that time Anglo-Saxon white and Rockwell admits to having shared the prejudices of the period. He disliked the city and spent his summers in the country – he said that this time of his life was great inspiration for his early work. When he was 9 they moved to the country and by his early teens he has decided that he wanted to be an artist. He dropped out of high school and went full time to art school and finally 1910 he became a student at Art Students League in NYC. In 1912 his family returned to NYC by Norman was earning enough in commissions to become a full time illustrator. His first commission was at age16 doing four Christmas cards followed by his first illustrated book Tell Me Why Stories.

Rockwell’s job with Boys Life led to one hundred pictures for the Boy Scouts Hike Book. On May 20, 1946 he did the first of many for The Saturday Evening Post. At the age of 22 he had established himself as a major-league illustrator. In 1916 he married Irene O’Connor ; she divorced him in 1923. He married Mary Barstow 1930 and in 1939 his family had increased to 3 sons and they move to Arlington Vermont – where is work became more naturalistic. Mary died in 1959 and Rockwell married Molly Punderson. Norman’s last Post cover was in 1963 – a picture of John F Kennedy. He died November 8, 1978 at the age of 84 leaving a painting on the easel.

You can go to for additional information.

They had an exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco a number of years back – what a treat to see his work up close.

The information above is from the book our daughter gave us and was Christopher Finch.


News Kiosk in the Snow 12/20/41


Christmas Country Gentleman 12/18/1920

Look up more of the Christmas Covers they are wonderful. From my computer to yours have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and Holiday Season.



3 Responses to “Norman Rockwell – by Sandy Wagner”

  1. 1 lookingforbeauty October 17, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    He was a brilliant illustrator. I often look at his drawings when they come my way and marvel how he could put so much humour and intelligence into them. He had a gift and was able to exercise it to the full.
    Without his very clever, very funny drawings and paintings we would not know so much about that period of American development. He tells it better than any history book could do.

    Thanks for your essay on him. It’s always good to remember some of our finest artists and how they have affected our lives.
    Just a little note. You might want to edit his birth date – it looks like you transposed the numbers. I think he must have been born in 1894 not 1984.

  2. 2 sandyw December 20, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    It was funny yesterday when I got the mail – there was a calendar from our broker and it was selections of Norman Rockwell. I love “Waiting for the Vet” it is one of my favorites. I’m looking for the old country doctor – I know what it is.


  3. 3 eileen doughty December 19, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    A good post for the Christmas season!

    I was interested to read in the Terry Barrett “Interpreting Art” book, the section on the Rockwell painting “After the Prom”, and the various stages criticism of his work has gone through. Funny that he can be considered “ideologically controversial” for being nice. I like art that tells a story – and there are levels of stories beneath the surface of much of his work. My favorite is his “Triple Self Portrait”. I am also partial to one showing a child being inoculated, as my grandfather was a small-town doctor and it reminded me of his experiences. Sometimes I am content to enjoy art that is, well, just nice.

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