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Norman Rockwell, an illustrator of distinction

I have enjoyed the work of Norman Rockwell for many years. His ability to depict hometown people with humor and pathos on the same canvas was a particular talent. Rockwell was a illustrator for Saturday Evening Post covers for much of his career. He also did covers for a number of other magazines, but perhaps he was most recognized for his Saturday Evening Post work.
I have subscribed to the Post since I was a teenager. I could hardly wait until the latest edition came to our rural mailbox when I was young and I still look forward to each issue. The magazine has changed a lot since then, but it’s still a great read even today.
I have in my magazine collection several issues of the Saturday Evening Post. Many of them have Rockwell covers. Of course the Post also enlisted other artists as well for their covers but Norman Rockwell was probably the most famous of them all.
Rockwell began his art career with covers for Boys’ Life Magazine. He also did work for Colliers, a magazine that is no longer published but was popular a few years ago. He also did illustrations for advertisements including the Orange Crush Soft Drink Company and Jell-O. He also did pictures for the Boy Scouts of America.
Rockwell is quoted as saying “I paint life as I would like it to be.” When I view his work, I see life as I would like it to be as well. One of my favorites of his work shows an elderly lady and young boy bowing in a prayer of thanksgiving at a table shared by two boys who look to be in the upper teens. The boys’, though young and maybe not used to giving thanks for their food, were showing curiosity but respect as well for the occasion.
I have been very impressed with his illustration of a soldier’s return home from military service. It shows the boy’s mother and the neighbors as they welcomed him back into their lives. Joy and surprise can be seen on their faces.
Another one I remember that was amusing to me was the lad of about eight or ten years old who was in the examining room waiting for the doctor to come in. The boy was reading intently the doctor’s diploma that was hanging on the wall. Could the kid have been checking the doctor’s qualifications?
Another favorite work by Rockwell shows a country doctor as he uses the stethoscope on a little girl’s obviously very “loved” doll. It is titled “Doctor and Doll” and it was a March 9, 1929 Post cover.

Norman Percevel Rockwell was born February 3, 1894 in New York City. He died November 8, 1978 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He spent a great deal of his life on a 60-acre farm in Vermont.
Rockwell’s legacy to the world is a mass of art that is both nostalgic and thought provoking. As I view his illustrations from time to time, I will reflect on the painted surfaces but I will also look beyond the images and see the messages of hope, patriotism and many other ideals that are inherent in his work.