Post Cover 5/20/1916
Almost inevitably, Rockwell's first cover for The Saturday Evening Post centered on the world of young boys. Forty-one of the first fifty covers he painted for the Post featured children, and most of these children were boys.
Post Cover 6/3/1916
As children today like to dress as Superman and Wonder Woman, so in 1916 they chose to imitate the superheroes of their period, such as Eugene Sandow, the famous German body builder.
GRAMPS AT THE PLATE
Post Cover 8/5/1916
One of Rockwell's recurring themes was the continuity of experience between age and youth. In this instance we may conjecture that father, unseen, is the pitcher, but we cannot be sure, and what is more important is that gramps is shown to be capable of reliving the innocent pleasures of childhood.
REDHEAD LOVES HATTY
Post Cover 9/16/1916
The barefoot boy in this painting, his slingshot protruding from his hip pocket, belongs to an America that has long vanished. His is still the world of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. He probably belonged to an endangered species even when this picture was painted, but Rockwell would return to this stereotype again over the next twenty years.
Post Cover 10/14/1916
Illuminated by light reflected from the movie screen, these faces tell us that Chaplin's little tramp transcends age barriers with his inspired clowning. Interestingly, Rockwell uses a device popularized by film makers, making his point by showing the reaction of the spectators rather than by showing the event that inspires the reaction.
Post Cover 12/9/1916
In this, the first of many Christmas covers for the Post, Rockwell portrays an elderly man trying on a false beard preparatory to playing Santa Claus. This is the first of Rockwell's Post covers not to feature a child; but the toys, the occasion - everything about the painting - conspires to evoke the child's world.
SHALL WE DANCE?
Post Cover 1/13/1917
The charming young lady is clearly enthralled by the weary chit-chat of the college man. She has, however, promised this dance to an admirer who is about to claim his rights and seems unlikely to defer them. This cover is significant in that it offers a first hint of the more subtle kind of wit that will appear in Rockwell's later work.
READY TO SERVE
Post Cover 5/12/1917
This simple patriotic cover was published just a month after the United States's entry into World War I. Given publishing deadlines, even under these special circumstances, it must have been painted and delivered virtually overnight. The subject matter speaks for itself.
Post Cover 6/16/1917
In this, a more typical Rockwell approach to the problem of painting a patriotic cover, we are shown children imitating their elders. What makes the painting work is the seriousness with which they take the situation created in their imagination.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Post Cover 10/27/1917
This is an early example of a Rockwell cover in which a whole story is conjured up with a single image.
Post Cover 1/26/1918
There is nothing novel about this painting, but it is a good example of Rockwell's early style. The theme is stated succinctly, the design is solid.
Post Cover 5/18/1918
Rockwell delighted in catching the characters of his paintings off guard, and here one of his barefoot boys discovers a clown half in character and half out.
Post Cover 8/10/1918
The child is delighted to be in the barber's chair. The mother, on the other hand, is experiencing a gamut of emotions that will not permit her to share the pleasure. There is no doubt, of course, whom we are expected to identify with. Rockwell has carefully set up this composition so that we see this incident in the barber's mirror, and so our own viewpoint is that of the child.
RED CROSS VOLUNTEER
Post Cover 9/21/1918
Dogs in Rockwell's world - and they make many appearances there - tend to enter into a symbiotic relationship with their masters or mistresses, and so they can be used to reinforce the statement the artist is trying to make. In this example, the dog even has its own uniform, just to make the point quite clear.
Ladies Home Journal / /1919
The figures here are ciphers of youth and age. In his maturity he would have endowed the old man and the boy with more character, making them distinct individuals, through the details that are so telling in Rockwell's later work.
Post Cover 1/18/1919
This was painted during Rockwell's time in the navy (note the artist's signature), and perhaps it is best understood as a tribute to his comrades in arms.
Post Cover 2/22/1919
The youngsters who gather around this returning hero permit Rockwell to introduce a few characteristically informal touches, but essentially this is a painting that owes more to the national mood of the day than to the artist's personal vision.
Literary Digest 3/1/1919
Here he gives us a study of a wounded veteran recounting one of his more bloodcurdling war experiences for the benefit of an attentive audience. As is so often the case in Rockwell's work, the hands express as much as the face.
COURTING AT MIDNIGHT
Post Cover 3/22/1919
This early gem is a harbinger of things to come. Rockwell has captured the exact moment that will give us the maximum information about the two sweethearts. Everything considered, this must be taken as something of a landmark in Rockwell's career.
Post Cover 4/26/1919
This is a relatively undistinguished cover, and one feels that Rockwell turned it out almost automatically. The boy, in particular, seems far too much of a stereotype.
Post Cover 6/14/1919
The class valedictorian who forgets his speech on graduation day has become such a cliche. It is impossible to know how familiar the average Post reader would have been with the joke in 1919. It's even possible that Rockwell invented it.
Post Cover 6/28/1919
What makes this cover effective is the fact that the leapfrogger, and his dog too, seem to be leaping clean off the page. Rockwell had not attempted anything quite like this before, but he pulls it off neatly.
Post Cover 8/9/1919
This is a typical "seasonal" cover of the period. Summer means swimming and Rockwell takes a situation that anyone can imagine himself in and presents it in a perfectly straightforward fashion.
ASLEEP ON THE JOB
Post Cover 9/6/1919
Another stock situation presented with the minimum of fuss. It is typical of the kind of bread-and-butter subject and treatment that Rockwell would fall back upon, whenever more original ideas failed to present themselves.
Post Cover 9/20/1919
The theme is the triumph of leisure over labor and this time the subject is treated in a more interesting way. The businessman about to lock up his office, golf clubs slung over shoulder, is presented as if we had caught him in the act.
Post Cover 10/4/1919
This cover works in much the same way as the earlier "Leapfrog" . It depends upon the illusion that the accident which is about to happen will cause the boy to actually fall off the page.
GRAMPS ENCOUNTERS GRAMPS
Post Cover 12/20/1919
The snowman's eyes have been placed so as to give him the same expression of apprehension that is visible on the small boy's face. Because of this, the snowman - an inanimate object - becomes the animate center of the picture.
Post Cover 1/17/1920
Another example of Rockwell's bread and butter style.The boy writing clumsy love letters, watched by the faithful mutt who no longer has first claim on his affections, represents a blatant appeal to sentiment.
Post Cover 2/7/1920
In his best work, even at this early period, Rockwell gave us individuals, characters who were so unique that we can believe in them. Here he gives us types.
Post Cover 3/27/1920
This cook, leaving in a huff - with her pride intact, and her demeanor unsullied - is quite new in Rockwell's world. He must have witnessed just such an exit at first hand, for certainly this painting bears the authority of an event observed, which a touch of caricature does nothing to diminish.
THE OUIJA BOARD
Post Cover 5/1/1920
The Ouija board craze arrived with the twenties and Rockwell lost no time in utilizing it for his own purposes.
PLANNING THE HOME
Literary Digest Cover 5/8/1920
This is typical of the kind of cover Rockwell contributed to the Literary Digest over a period of several years. He usually sought his subject matter in quiet domestic moments, and for this magazine the presentation was always direct and simple.
Post Cover 5/15/1920
Another bread and butter cover, but it has a good deal of charm because of the thought and care the artist has put into its execution. Every detail is just right. We can even guess, from his evident preparedness and the neatly wrapped parcel at his side, at what kind of mother he has.
A DOG'S DAY
Post Cover 6/19/1920
Dogs in Rockwell's paintings tend to enter into a symbiotic relationship with their owners. In this instance, however these ties have been broken and the unfortunate pet finds himself banished.
THE OPEN ROAD
Post Cover 7/31/1920
An ancient bone shaker has, to the delight of its occupants, overtaken a spanking new roadster. Clearly the artist knows that most of the Post's readers will have no difficulty identifying with the driver of the jalopy and his passengers.
CAVE OF THE WINDS
Post Cover 8/28/1920
The clothes worn by the girl and her young man make this a period piece, but the snapshot approach once more hints at the mature Rockwell who will emerge twenty years later.
Post Cover 10/9/1920
Election Eve covers were to become something of a tradition for Post readers. This is the first of them and the theme he returned to again and again - husband and wife on opposite sides of the political fence - is stated with the utmost simplicity, but with considerable force.
Post Cover 10/23/1920
In this striking cover, the dark circle behind the figures gives focus to the composition, adding to its atmosphere, and helping to bring the scene to life.
Post Cover 12/4/1920
This traditional scene suggests that even Santa Glaus has to watch his expenses. As in the previous cover, good use is made of a circular framing device as a way of pulling the composition together.
Country Gentleman Cover 12/18/1920
Most of the covers Rockwell painted for Country Gentleman were humorous - usually picturing the misadventures of a city-bred ninny called Reginald - but in this instance Rockwell forgoes laughter for a straightforward statement of the seasonal theme.
ON THE HIGH SEAS
Post Cover 1/29/1921
In this instance, the circle is reshaped into an oval and enlarged, giving interest to a relatively ordinary painting.
FIRST OF THE MONTH
Literary Digest Cover 2/26/1921
There is nothing exceptional about this painting, but he demonstrates the ability to focus on the everyday, the familiar, which later provides the basis of his finest work.
A NIGHT ON THE TOWN
Post Cover 3/12/1921
Again Rockwell employs the circle, permitting the image to break through its confines so that he achieves a strong three-dimensional effect without losing any of the impact of the two-dimensional layout on the page.
Post Cover 6/4/1921
This is the most famous of Rockwell's early covers, and deservedly so since he takes a traditional theme and treats it in an original and innovative way. Rockwell's figure painting techniques may be completely traditional, but the compositional method he employs here owes nothing to the old masters.
WATCH THE BIRDIE
Post Cover 7/9/1921
The expression on the youth's face, not to mention the violent protests of his baby brother, tells us that this is not an enjoyable experience for anyone. This is a good example of the kind of slice of life subject that Rockwell would make his own.
Literary Digest Cover 7/30/1921
Many of the magazines he worked for, including the Post when he first became a contributor, did not run their covers on presses that permitted a full color range. Thus most of the early Rockwell cover paintings make only limited use of color.
Post Cover 8/13/1921
For this cover, Rockwell returned to the amusement park for subject matter. This example, though, is far less inspired than "Cave of the Winds" , painted a year earlier, and must be categorized as one of Rockwell's less interesting covers of the period.
Post Cover 10/1/1921
This painting of a courting couple surprised by the young woman's kid brother is worthy of study for its documentary detail. The young woman's clothing and the Chinese fabric draped over an arm of the sofa tell us a good deal about the taste and fashions of the period. The situation is pure Rockwell
Post Cover 12/3/1921
The first of Rockwell's Dickensian Christmas covers (and we remember how the artist's father loved to read Dickens out loud to his family). Given the difference of cultures, and of centuries, Rockwell is about as Dickensian as any illustrator could be. Rockwell had the same eye for comic incident and quirks of character that we find in Pickwick Papers.
GRANDPA AND CHILDREN
Literary Digest Cover 12/24/1921
We tend to think of Rockwell as a master of detail - which he undoubtedly was - but here he shows himself to be a master of mood as well.
Post Cover 1/14/1922
This plump boy, wondering at the magic of stereoscopic vision, seems curiously oldfashioned, even given the early date of this cover. It is not clear, in fact, if this is a contemporary subject - a kid who has found an old stereo scope in the attic - or whether it was intended as a period piece.
Post Cover 2/18/1922
The notion of the local mail clerk knowing everybody's business, because of his access to everyone's mail, is as old as the postal service itself. Rockwell's version is in no way novel, but he makes the clerk a believable character. We can see that he sees prying into other people's affairs as a de facto requisite of his office.
THREADING A NEEDLE
Post Cover 4/8/1922
The deceptively simple image conveys many things. The situation itself conjures up a history of deprivation, and the cat speaks to us of loneliness endured, while the man's stiff collar and straight back tell us that he has not been broken by his hard life. At first glance this is a comical picture, but it also contains an element of genuine tragedy.
THE OLD COUPLE
Literary Digest Cover 4/15/1922
Here he gives us a straightforward study of an elderly couple, and his tenderness towards his characters matches their tenderness towards one another.
BE A MAN!
Post Cover 4/19/1922
As a child Norman Rockwell was slight, and he must have found it easy to identify with this would-be body builder.
THE WONDERS OF RADIO
Post Cover 5/20/1922
Radio was still very much a novelty in 1922, a mysterious world of tall antennae, ear-phones and crystal detectors. Rockwell emphasizes this by showing the new wonder as it is experienced by an elderly couple. Now they can hear opera (interrupted by static, it's true) in the comfort of their own home, as it is being performed on the stage at the Met.
MENDING THE FLAG
Literary Digest Cover 5/27/1922
Done as an illustration for a story rather than as a composition specifically devised to appear on a cover. It does not display the layout skills that Rockwell was beginning to utilize in his work for the Post, and, in this regard, it's worth noting that this painting postdates his first real masterpiece, "No Swimming" , by several months.
BOY GAZING OUT OF A WINDOW
Post Cover 6/10/1922
A boy is busy with his studies. Outside the window a fishing pole is ready, and the boy's dog waits impatiently. The summer vacation is about to begin, but these last days of school-work seem the longest. It is an old story and Rockwell tells it with the utmost simplicity.
SETTLING AN ARGUMENT
Literary Digest Cover 6/24/1922
Rockwell has given this painting a fake Old Master look, something he would never have done had this been intended for the Post (though it's easy enough to imagine him painting a variant on this theme for the Post).
SETTING ONE'S SIGHTS
Post Cover 8/19/1922
This must count among Rockwell's least convincing covers. It takes a considerable stretch of the imagination to suppose that this old salt, who has lost a leg somewhere in his adventures about the globe, would bear so patiently with the pampered child in his oh-so-fresh sailor suit.
Post Cover 9/9/1922
This cover make us yearn for the urchins of "No Swimming", though, curiously, the same model seems to have posed for the plump lad at the right of each composition. For the sake of the unseen object of their affections, one wishes ill fortune to both these rivals.
Post Cover 11/4/1922
A movie star is the Prince Charming of this fairy tale, and the girl with the broom strikes a pose that she might have borrowed from Mary Pickford at her most maudlin. It is difficult to escape the conclusion, in fact, that this modern Cinderella is something of a glass slipper's nightmare.
Post Cover 12/2/1922
All artists experience doldrums and here Rockwell presents us with his fourth weak cover in a row. It's easy enough to accept the premise that Santa's preparations for the Christmas season leave him exhausted, but one fears for his safety when he shuts his eyes on helpers like these.
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