Norman Rockwell
1894 - 1978
THE MUSCLEMAN
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 2,210,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
Norman Rockwell
1894 - 1978
THE MUSCLEMAN
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 2,210,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

American Art

|
New York

Norman Rockwell
1894 - 1978
THE MUSCLEMAN
signed Norman Rockwell (lower right)
oil on canvas
35 by 25 inches
(88.9 by 63.5 cm)
Painted in 1941.
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Provenance

The Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1941 (commissioned from the artist)
Acquired by the present owner, 2003

Exhibited

Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Norman Rockwell Museum, The Picture of Health: Norman Rockwell Paintings, November 2003-May 2004, p. 17, illustrated in color p. 16
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Norman Rockwell Museum, November-December 2006, July-September 2008, July-September 2009, June 2010-February 2011, February-April 2012 (on loan)
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Norman Rockwell Museum; Old Lyme, Connecticut, Florence Griswold Museum; Kalamazoo, Michigan, Kalamazoo Institute of Art; Mobile, Alabama, Mobile Museum of Art; Fredericksburg, Virginia, Gari Melchers Home and Studio; El Paso, Texas, El Paso Museum of Art; Sandwich, Massachusetts, Heritage Museum and Gardens, Picturing Health: Norman Rockwell and the Art of Illustration, January 2007-September 2012
Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville Slugger Museum, Norman Rockwell: Sports, March-August 2011

Literature

Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, vol. I, no. A827, p. 569, illustrated p. 568

Catalogue Note

Over the course of his long and prolific career, Norman Rockwell executed over 300 cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post. In addition to these beloved commissions, Rockwell also produced countless illustrations and advertisements for over 150 American companies. His effective yet subtle brand of marketing made him a favorite of the advertising industry and by the mid-1920s, his name was almost synonymous with new product advertisement. The poignant scenes he produced in publications like Collier’s Weekly and Life set the standard for other commercial artists and illustrators of the age, and helped influence the purchasing behavior of a generation of Americans.

From 1929 to 1961, Rockwell created images for the advertising campaigns of several healthcare firms, including The American Optical and Upjohn companies. By the late 1930s, the Upjohn Company had grown rapidly to become a major American pharmaceutical provider and hired Rockwell to help bolster its public image. Like most of the political, social, and technological landscape of the United States, the field of medicine was experiencing profound change. As the country industrialized, the old system of healthcare, once characterized by local and personal treatment, began to disappear. In its stead was formed a modern industry dominated by large national companies offering a bevy of new products and services.

Appearing as a display advertisement in doctors' offices and pharmacies around the country, The Muscleman exemplifies Rockwell’s masterful ability to elevate commercial endeavors into the aesthetic realm. Executed in 1941, it features many of Rockwell’s most classic visual tropes. In this charming scene, Rockwell depicts a young mischievous boy accompanied by his faithful canine companion, illustrating a scene that could have occurred in any American household. Its apparent veracity, however, belies the careful planning with which Rockwell executed this—and all—of his compositions. Upjohn executives initially asked the artist to change the spotted dog to the all-white one already featured in another of his popular ads. Rockwell, however, insisted on the pattern “to concentrate the interest around the youngster’s head.” Simultaneously engaging and subtle, and rendered in the artist’s classic style, it is among the finest examples of his imagery as a commercial illustrator. 

American Art

|
New York