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Norman Rockwell
American Illustrator
1894-1978

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"Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical American. I am a story teller."  (Norman Rockwell)

The widely popular Norman Rockwell was  best known for his magazine covers and illustrations for such prominent American periodicals as the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies' Home Journal, and Look. 

Rockwell was born on 3rd February 1894 in New York City, and having won a scholarship to Art Students League, he trained there and received his first free-lance assignment from Condé Nast at 17 years of age.  

In 1916 he sold his first cover to Saturday Evening Post, for which in the next 47 years he illustrated a total of 317 magazine covers. 

  • In 2000 USA issued the pane "American Illustrators", containing 20 self-adhesive stamps.  The stamp to the right is No. 19 in the pane, and shows the cover illustration on Saturday Evening Post, 9th March 1929. 

Click here to see the full pane of "American Illustrators".  The link will open in a new window.

USA 2000. Norman Rockwell. From the pane American Illustrators.

Rockwell was a careful craftsman with an ability to represent detail realistically. His favorite subjects were everyday events that celebrated small-town life and patriotic themes. The scenes were often humorous and executed with minute attention to detail so realistic that his paintings frequently resemble photographs. Though loved by the public, Rockwell's work was dismissed by most critics as lacking artistic merit and authentic social observation.  

Liberia 1979. Norman Rockwell. The artist beyond the Easel.

From 1925 to 1976 Rockwell illustrated the Boy Scout Calendar, and in 1979 -- the year after his death -- Liberia issued a huge set of 50 postage stamps in large format, featuring these paintings as  "Scouting through the eyes of Normal Rockwell".  (Scott # 853 - 857).  The stamp is interesting, because Normal Rockwell has depicted himself beyond the easel, in the midst of scouts.  
  • Liberia 1979.  Boy Scouts Calendar 1969. The artist Beyond The Easel, with boy scouts watching him work. All stamps in the set are the same size, 4x5 cm.  One of 10 designs, Scott # 856. 

The set has 5 denominations:  5c, 10c, 15c, 25c, and 35c.  There are 10 different designs in each denomination.  This collection is very attractive, and much sought after by collectors of the Scouting Topic.  Click on the link below each stamp to see a slideshow of the 10 stamps contained in that denomination. The link will open in a new window. (ca. 1 Mb each).

Liberia 1979. Normal Rockwell. Boy Scouts Calendar 1927 "Good Friends".

Liberia 1979.
Boy Scouts Calendar 1927: 
Good Friends
One of 10 designs in Scott # 853
Slideshow of 5c-stamps

Liberia 1979. Normal Rockwell Boy Scouts Calendar 1936 "The Campfire Story".

Liberia 1979.
Boy Scouts Calendar 1936: 
The Campfire Story
One of 10 designs in Scott # 854
Slideshow of 10c-stamps

Liberia 1979. Norman Rockwell. Boy Scouts Calendar 1963 "A good sign all over the world".

Liberia 1979.
Boy Scouts Calendar 1963:
A Good Sign All Over the World
One of 10 designs, Scott#855
Slideshow of 15c-stamps

Liberia 1979. Norman Rockwell. Boy Scouts Calendar 1944. "We, too, have a job to do".

Liberia 1979.
Boy Scouts Calendar 1944:
We, too, have a job to do
One of 10 designs, Scott#856
Slideshow of 25c-stamps

Liberia 1979. Norman Rockwell. Boy Scouts Calendar 1949 "Friend in need".

Liberia 1979.
Boy Scouts Calendar 1949:
Friend in Need
One of 10 designs, Scott#857
Slideshow of 35c-stamps

Rockwell also designed many posters and painted a famous series, The Four Freedoms, based on principles pronounced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 and incorporated into the Atlantic Charter. During World War II posters of these paintings were reproduced and distributed by the Office of War Information. 

Rockwell's autobiography, "My Adventures as an Illustrator", was published in 1959. 

In 1961, Rockwell married Molly Punderson, a retired teacher. Two years later, he ended his 47-year association with The Saturday Evening Post and began to work for Look Magazine. During his 10-year association with Look, Rockwell painted pictures illustrating some of his deepest concerns and interests, including civil rights, America's war on poverty, and the exploration of space. 

Over time a huge number of postage stamps featuring Norman Rockwell's paintings have been issued by various countries.  Here is a nice set from Romania, issued 1981, featuring Children's Games. 

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Hopscotch.

Hopscotch
Scott # 3035

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Soccer.

Soccer
Scott # 3036

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Riding Stickhorse.

Riding Stickhorse
Scott # 3037

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Snagging the big one.

Snagging the Big One
Scott # 3038

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. A patient friend.

A Patient Friend
Scott # 3039

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Doggone it.

Doggone It
Scott # 3040

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Puppy Love.

Puppy Love
Scott # 3041

Romania 1981. Norman Rockwell. Flying Model Planes.

Flying Model Planes
(Omitted in Scott)

In 1973, Rockwell established a trust to preserve his artistic legacy by placing his works in the custodianship of the Old Corner House Stockbridge Historical Society, later to become the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, where Rockwell had lived for his last 25 years. 

Built in classic New England style at a cost of more than $9 million, the museum houses Norman Rockwell's old studio and some 500 of his paintings and drawings. 

The trust now forms the core of the Museum's permanent collections. In 1976, in failing health, Rockwell became concerned about the future of his studio, and arranged to have his studio and its contents added to the trust. 

  • USA 1973. Illustration to Mark Twain's novel "Tom Sawyer". 
  • Norman Rockwell beyond the easel in his studio in Stockbridge. Scan © Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2002. 

USA 1973. Illustration to Mark Twain's novel "Tom Sawyer".

In 1977, Rockwell received the nation's highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his "vivid and affectionate portraits of our country" by President Gerald R Ford.

He died in his home in Stockbridge on November 8, 1978, at the age of 84.

Sources and links: 

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