The 20th-century American painter and illustrator, Norman Rockwell, is well-known for his artwork, which often reflected the American culture, as well as, the cover illustrations he did over four decades for the Saturday Evening Post magazine. Although many of us recognize Rockwell’s paintings, there is a lot we don’t know about the man himself or what inspired his popular artwork.
Born on February 3rd 1894 in New York City, Norman Percevel Rockwell attended the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League before his work was produced for St. Nicholas Magazine and other juvenile publications. His first real break-through didn’t happen until the year 1912, at the age of eighteen, with his first book illustration for Carl H. Claudy’s Tell Me Why: Stories about Mother Nature.
At the age of nineteen, Norman Rockwell became the art editor for Boys’ Life, which is a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) publication and as a part of his position there, painted several magazine covers. At the age of twenty-one, Rockwell shared a studio with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe, who worked for The Saturday Evening Post, and is how Norman Rockwell began painting covers for the Post. In total, Rockwell had 323 original covers published for The Saturday Evening Post, spanning over 47 years. His success at the Post led him to other covers being published on magazines, such as, Country Gentleman and Life Magazine.
Rockwell’s personal life, marriages, World War II, and a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt were some of what inspired several of his paintings.
Later in life, Rockwell spent ten years painting covers for Look magazine and his inspirations for those came from his interests in civil rights, poverty and space exploration. He also did some portrait paintings of influential people in society, such as President Nixon and Kennedy. One of his last pieces of artwork was a portrait of Judy Garland in 1969. Norman Rockwell died at the age of eighty-four on November 8th 1978.
The Norman Rockwell Museum has a collection, which is the world’s largest, including more than 700 original Rockwell paintings, drawings, and studies.
Here are four of Norman Rockwell Paintings and the photographs that inspired him.
1. “After the Prom” Photo and Painting
2. “The Voyeur” Photo and Painting
3. “Moving Day” Photo and Painting
4. “The Runaway” Photo and Painting