Norman Rockwell Museum At Stockbridge Essay, Research Paper
Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge
By Dan Barker
Norman Rockwell greatly admired the work of other illustrators. The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge presents a regularly changing program of the work of other illustrators because it believes that one of the best ways to enjoy and understand an artist is through comparison and contrast with other artists
The visitor to the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge will currently find approximately 60 original works of art by Norman Rockwell on exhibit, including works from every decade of Rockwell’s career. Paintings on exhibit include rarely seen works from public and private collections, as well as many from the museum’s extensive permanent collection. Featured are an extraordinary selection of magazine cover illustrations, story illustrations, and art for advertising that reflects Norman Rockwell’s artistic evolution, from fledgling professional to masterful painter, draftsman and storyteller.
These include two outstanding magazine cover illustrations titled The Runaway, painted at distinctly different points in the artist’s career, that reflect a similar theme. Both the earlier image, painted for Look in 1922, and the study for the 1958 Saturday Evening Post cover are currently on view fine examples of Rockwell’s early and mature styles.
The richly painted 1967 McCall’s story illustration, Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, offers a panoramic glimpse of the town that Rockwell called home for the last twenty-five years of his life. And beautifully conceived advertising illustrations like Market Day Special, painted for Sun maid in 1930, and The Engagement Ring, created for Sears & Roebuck in 1927, reflect the artist’s ability to convey a sense intimacy and grace within the confines of his more commercial assignments.
A gifted draftsman, painter and visual storyteller, Rockwell was meticulous about his craft and highly sought after for his detailed narrative images. He worked seven days a week to fulfill the assignments on an ever-crowded schedule, and despite impending deadlines, went through five to fifteen steps from the conception of an idea to the completion of an illustration. Several of Rockwell’s large charcoal studies are on view, offering a rare look at the artist’s process. His masterful technique and process of editing and revision is clearly evidenced in his working drawings for two Saturday Evening Post covers: Happy New Year (1947) and Just Married (1957)
Norman Rockwell’s studio, located a short walk from the museum building, is as it was during the later years of Rockwell’s remarkable career. On view is Rockwell’s art library, easel, furnishings, artwork sent by admirers and travel mementos. This historic building is open to the public from May through October.
Norman Rockwell’s work appeared in books, on cereal boxes, as magazine covers, seasonal calendars, advertisements and story illustrations. Sometimes a magazine would send him a particular assignment. In this case, the Saturday Evening Post asked him to create a double page spread showing a typical American country doctor at work. Since Rockwell was living in rural Vermont at the time, he didn’t have to look far to find the perfect doctor. The office was decorated entirely in beiges and browns. This probably made for a very nice doctor’s office, but it didn’t do much for the painting Rockwell had in mind. So, he used what is called “artistic license” and changed some of the colors.
. The rug is a very warm red, and, on the walls, he placed green. This was an intentional choice, as red and green are complementary colors. Rockwell adds interest to the painting by choosing warm colors. The yellow light behind the doctor’s head also looks warm. That light is very important as it provides contrast for the doctor. Without this light, we wouldn’t see him very well, and he would blend right into his desk. The boy in the chair on the right-hand side of the picture was an afterthought, but is important to the composition. Without him, the painting seems to be visually “heavy” on the left. With him, the composition feels balanced.
You can learn a lot about the people in this scene by looking at the clues Norman Rockwell provided. Look carefully around the office. What do you see that tells you other things the doctor might be interested in besides healing? There are details that indicate the time of day, and a clock on the mantelpiece tells us the exact time. Is this a usual time for a visit to the doctor today? Why do you think the family is there?
Rockwell often gives a hint that the world extends beyond the scene we are looking at. Do you see anything that allows you to extend the picture beyond the walls of this room? Allowing viewers to “contribute” their own imagination to a picture is part of what made Norman Rockwell’s work so popular.
In whole I find Norman Rockwell?s work fun to look at. They all make you think and make you take a look at yourself.
The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge web page. 18 January 2001, 21January2001