It’s always been said that baseball and apple pie typify the American Way of Life, but Norman Rockwell’s collection of American culture portrays us as far more than that. Norman Rockwell, an American author, painter and illustrator in the 1900’s, portrayed the American Way of Life with optimism, humor, warmth, and patriotism. Rockwell lived from 1894-1978 and produced over 4,000 original works in his lifetime.
Born in New York City, Rockwell knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist. He worked as an illustrator for Boys’ Life, a magazine for Boy Scouts of America and by the time he was 22 years old (1916), Rockwell began what would be a 47-year career with The Saturday Evening Post. He painted 321 covers for the Post. Rockwell illustrated covers for other notable magazines: Look, American Red Cross, Literary Digest, The Country Gentleman, Leslie’s Weekly, Judge, Peoples Popular Monthly, and Life.
Rockwell’s illustrations most often depicted everyday American scenes especially family and small-town life. Some of his critics didn’t believe Rockwell had real artistic value because his illustrations were simplistic and warmly humorous. But in answer to their rebuff, he stated, “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.”
In addition to his many magazine illustrations, Rockwell created posters during WWII. He painted the Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. The paintings toured the United States and earned over $130 million for the war effort. As a result, Rockwell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford in 1977. In his speech, President Ford said, “Artist, illustrator and author, Norman Rockwell has portrayed the American scene with unrivaled freshness and clarity. Insight, optimism and good humor are the hallmarks of his artistic style. His vivid and affectionate portraits of our country and ourselves have become a beloved part of the American tradition.”
Fascinated with Norman Rockwell’s work, I recently purchased 16 plates to be featured soon at 2aEmporium. Here is just a sampling which features: “Mother’s Day 1986”, “Grandpa’s Treasure Chest”, and “The Music Maker”.
Credits: I consulted several articles online to compose this short sketch of the life of Norman Rockwell. Quotes were taken from www.biography.com.
18 thoughts on “Norman Rockwell — An American Way of Life”
- Mary-the boondocks blog| October 2, 2016 at 6:20PM
Love that quote about wanting to make the world an ideal place. There is so much pain, suffering and such that we can all use a bit of perfection and beauty to brighten our day.
- Mrs. A.| October 2, 2016 at 6:27PM
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Mary. I think the reason I’m drawn to Norman Rockwell’s paintings is the smile they leave on your face.
- Laura Crumm| October 2, 2016 at 7:59PM
I love his art. It’s so ‘homey’. (Is that a word)? His art was so simple, yet with so much ‘mental dimension’.
- Mrs. A.| October 2, 2016 at 8:21PM
I agree, Laura. And “homey” is a good enough word for me. :0)
- Molly| October 2, 2016 at 8:03PM
I love Norman Rockwell, we were able to stop at his small museum when we went to the north east. On my office wall I have a small framed print I bought from there, called ,
It’s Ruby Bridges being escorted to school. Years later we had our daughter, Ruby:)
- Mrs. A.| October 2, 2016 at 8:29PM
Molly, vacationing in the northeastern part of the US is on my Bucket List. I will add the Norman Rockwell Museum to my “must see” list.
- Betty Powell| October 3, 2016 at 9:35AM
Norman Rockwell’s work says a lot about the prevailing American socio-cultural mores of the time. I especially love his, A Problem We All Live With, Rockwell’s depiction of the desegregation of the New Orleans school system, as Ruby Bridges is being escorted to school. Typically, Rockwell’s work was featured on magazine covers ~ I waited eagerly for the arrival of our copy of the Saturday Evening Post ~ but, this painting was not. The author poses the question why? A compelling read: http://www.pophistorydig.com/topics/tag/norman-rockwell-and-race/
Thanks, Mrs. A, for posting this. I’m such a fan of this work and applaud you for purchasing the beautiful plates.
- Mrs. A.| October 3, 2016 at 10:56AM
Thanks for commenting, Betty. I’ll be sure to take a look at the link you included.
- Wanda @ Just Vintage| October 3, 2016 at 10:24AM
Most of his art shows so much love and caring. They weren’t idyllic times, no era ever is, but love, family, friends and pets make us a Norman Rockwell painting if we just stop and look.
- Mrs. A.| October 3, 2016 at 11:00AM
Wanda, I’m sure some of my own life, particularly as a youngster, would fit well in a Norman Rockwell painting.
- JD at ThirdShiftVintage.com| October 3, 2016 at 1:38PM
I’ve enjoyed your article. My Mom collected Norman Rockwell plates. I always enjoyed his style.
- Mrs. A.| October 3, 2017 at 2:47PM
Thank you, JD.
- Loretta at MoonstruckCottage.com| October 4, 2016 at 11:35PM
I enjoyed this, Mrs. A! Norman Rockwell lived and worked in my hometown, New Rochelle, NY, for many years (from 1913 to 1939) — as did many other well-known artists and magazine-cover illustrators of the time.
- Mrs. A.| October 6, 2016 at 10:16AM
Thank you so much for stopping by, Loretta. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
- sally| October 7, 2016 at 6:27PM
wonderful article, doesn’t everyone just love Norman Rockwell
- Mrs. A.| October 8, 2016 at 10:10AM
Sally, I’m so glad you stopped by to read the post on Norman Rockwell. Thank you for commenting.
- Joanne| October 10, 2016 at 8:44PM
Interesting and well done, Mrs. A!
- Mrs. A.| October 10, 2016 at 9:03PM
Joanne, thank you for reading my post and leaving a comment. I appreciate your kind words.