Norman Rockwell | Biography
Norman Rockwell | Biography

Quick Information

  • Full Name Norman Rockwell
  • Occupation Painter, Illustrator
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace New York City
  • Birth Date Feb 03, 1894
  • Place Of Death Stockbridge, Massachusetts (home)
  • Death Date 1978-11-8
  • Did You Know? Rockwell was married thrice in his life.  

Quotes

Legendary Illustrator & Painter

Norman Rockwell | Biography

After hearing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union speech in 1943, Rockwell produced a collection of four iconic paintings about the four freedoms Roosevelt spoke of in the aftermath of World War II and were published. In 1969, his work on Look magazine depicted Neil Armstrong's left foot in the moon after the successful moon landing. In 1977, President Gerald Ford gave Rockwell 'Presedential Medal Of Freedom' award.


Quick Information
  • Full Name Norman Rockwell
  • Occupation Painter, Illustrator
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace New York City
  • Place Of Death Stockbridge, Massachusetts (home)
  • Death Date 1978-11-8
  • Did You Know? Rockwell was married thrice in his life.  
  • Birth Date Feb 03, 1894

Norman Rockwell was an influential American painter and illustrator who created iconic representations of American culture for The Saturday Evening Post.

Who is Norman Rockwell?

Norman Rockwell's first commission came when he was seventeen years old. At the age of 22, his first Saturday Evening Post 'Boy with Baby Carriagecover was published on 20 May 1916. With the Post, Rockwell would later have 47 years of success with the magazine. During that time, he created 321 magazine covers.

After hearing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union speech in 1943, Rockwell produced a collection of four iconic paintings about the four freedoms Roosevelt spoke of in the aftermath of World War II and were published.

'The Problem We All Live With,' his Civil Rights masterpiece (1963), was the culmination of his postwar work, which included significant socially inspired elements. Other works, such as 'Grissom and Young' (1965), a portrait of astronauts, and 'First Trip to the Beauty Shop' (1972), packed with his trademark humor and pathos, document significant civic moments. 

Early life

Born on 3 February 1894 in New York City, Rockwell was the second of three sons born to Jarvis Waring Rockwell, a Philadelphia textile firm manager, and Anne Mary Rockwell, an anxious yet adventurous wife, mother, and homemaker.

Rockwell spent several hours with the choir at St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village, where he grew up in a religious family with his siblings. The family spent the summers on country farms in New England.

When he was in his adolescent years, his extended family had relocated to Mamaroneck, New York. Their new home was in a quiet, sleepy village near the Atlantic Ocean, where they could hear the waves lapping against the shore. His schoolwork and church attendance were less stressful and more enjoyable. Norman began to make new friends with whom he formed close bonds.

Now that he was old enough to realize his family's financial struggles, Norman wanted to earn some money by mowing lawns, purchasing a mail delivery route to the village's wealthier section, and tutoring. Ethel Barrymore, later known as 'The First Lady of the American Theatre,' was one of his students he tutored in algebra, drawing, and painting.

At the age of 14, Rockwell decided he wanted to be an artist and enrolled at The New School of Art. By the age of 16, Rockwell had dropped out of high school and enrolled at the National Academy of Design to pursue his dream. He later moved to the New York Art Students League. Popular artists such as Thomas Fogarty, George Bridgman, and Frank Vincent DuMond taught him here.

Early Painting Career

After receiving his first freelance assignment from Conde Nast at age seventeen, he subsequently illustrated for different magazines. In 1912, he was 18 when he came with his first illustrating book for Carl H. Claudy's 'Tell Me Why: Mother Nature Story.' It was Rockwell's first major commission.

On his visit to Philadelphia in March 1916, Rockwell visited the Editor of the Saturday Evening Post, George Horace Lorimer. It was the dream of Rockwell to cover the post office. He showed his work to the art editor since he did not have an appointment. The editor then showed the piece to Lorimer. The editor accepted Rockwell's two finished cover pictures and three future cover sketches. Norman Rockwell was 22 and made his first cover for the magazine in the 20 May 1916 issue of the popular magazine the piece entitled 'Boy with Baby Carriage.'

The success of Rockwell with the piece made him more appealing to other magazines: Rockwell had a total of 321 postal coverings subsequently. His most iconic coverage included a celebration of the crossing of the Atlantic by Charles Lindberg in 1920.

The 1930s and 1940s were the most fruitful times for Rockwell's success; it was was largely due to his careful appreciation of the everyday American scenes, particularly the warmth of small-town life. Bout some of the criticisms rejected him for not having a true artistic merit

As he grew up, Rockwell found that earth was never a perfect place, so he decided to paint his paintings with the ideal aspects. "Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn't the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it," he once said.

World War II

During the Second World War, the Office of War Information reproduced posters of his paintings portraying the 'Four Freedoms.'

In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor plunging the United States into World War II. Rockwell felt that his duty was to paint pictures to remind Americans, especially soldiers, of the most important and precious possession: their freedom. He was mainly inspired by the 1941 address to Congress by President Roosevelt, "At no previous time has American security been threatened from without as it is today."

In 1943, Rockwell painted his Four Freedoms paintings: 'Freedom of Speech,' 'Freedom of Worship,' 'Freedom from Want,' and 'Freedom from Fear,' which were reproduced in four issues of the Saturday Evening Post accompanied by essays from contemporary writers. His works later toured the United States in an exhibition organized by the US treasury and the magazine. The exhibition brought in more than $130 million for the war effort. The original paintings were also taken on a nationwide tour to promote war bonds by the federal government. 

Later Career

In 1943, the studio of Rockwell burned. His original paintings and drawings and his large costume collection got burnt to ashes. He then settled in West Arlington, Vermont, with his family. Rockwell then worked on special posting stamps and posters for the Treasury, the Military, and Hollywood movies. He also produced pictures of the Sears mail-order catalogs, Hallmark greeting cards, and books such as 'Tom Sawyer's Adventures' and 'The Huckleberry Finn Adventures.' Rockwell later moved to Massachusetts in 1953 with his family in Stockburger.

Eventually, Rockwell wanted a new source of revenue. He returned to the Post in the summer of 1955, where he decided to paint portraits of Presidential candidates Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower. Meanwhile, in the fall of that year, Post's publisher planned to start publishing excerpts from his autobiography on 13 February 1960, a date for which he needed to concentrate on creating the cover image.

Post War Work 

 In the postwar years, he did the bulk of the work of his career. On 14 January 1964, Look published a piece of his titled 'The Problem We All Live With,' which was a socially charged piece. The work depicts a small African American girl surrounded by faceless US marshals as she marches past a wall with the marks of a broken tomato and a scrawled racial epithet. The artist known for portraying romanticized visions of American life received a lot of hate mail for the piece. But it turned out to be one of his most significant works. The piece was the Norman Rockwell Museum's first acquisition in 1975, and it later hung in the White House during President Barack Obama's first term. 

In 1969, his work on Look magazine depicted Neil Armstrong's left foot in the moon after the successful moon landing. In 1977, President Gerald Ford gave Rockwell 'Presedential Medal Of Freedom' award. A year later, Rockwell died at home on 8 November 1978.

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