The Saturday Evening Post, September 7, 1957, illustrated in color on the cover
Norman Rockwell, The Norman Rockwell Album, Garden City, New York, 1961, p. 159, illustrated
Thomas S. Buechner, Norman Rockwell: Artist & Illustrator, New York, 1970, no. 518, 538, illustrated
Thomas S. Buechner, Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective, New York, 1972, illustrated p. 117
Christopher Finch, Norman Rockwell's America, New York, 1975, no. 45, illustrated
Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, vol. I, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, no. C485, p. 215, illustrated p. 214
In 1953 Norman Rockwell moved from Arlington, Virginia to Stockbridge, Massachusetts where he spent the last twenty-five years of his life. He continued to paint his widely popular covers for The Saturday Evening Post which entertained a post-war America willing to turn its attention away from the threat of communism and nuclear war toward a more pleasant idealized portrayal of everyday life. Throughout Rockwell's career, the covers depicting childhood were constant, each rendered with a particular blend of warmth, humor and charm. For the September 7th, 1957 cover, Rockwell painted The Check-Up, a humorous depiction of pre-adolescence and a defining moment for many children - the proud display of lost front teeth.
"For the Post cover, the girl on the right, Anne Morgan, was selected because she was actually missing her front teeth. The illustrator asked Betsy Campbell (a daughter of the artist's neighbor) to pose for the middle figure. Sewn by her mother, the plaid skirt Betsy wore was so charming that a letter to the Post from a reader in New York inquired about buying a half dozen of them" (Susan E. Meyer, Norman Rockwell's People, New York, 1981, p. 200). Anne Morgan, a favorite model, also posed for a Crest toothpaste ad in which Rockwell was obliged to paint in her missing front teeth.
The narrative of The Check-Up focuses on three young girls at the start of a school day, hair neatly coiffed and dresses crisply ironed. Two of the girls face the third, examining their red-headed friend as she stands, mouth wide open, proudly revealing the gap in her teeth. One of the girls stands back, glancing up just enough to take in her friend's excitement, a hint of envy in her gaze; the second girl peers into her friend's mouth, hands behind her back, leaning in to examine the evidence.
"Ultimately Rockwell's work is most engaging as a form of social document. One can imagine doctoral theses devoted to his portrayals of marriage, old age, small-town American life and, perhaps his greatest subject, the joys, insecurities and duties of childhood and adolescence. In countless images, Rockwell gave pictorial life to America's dream of itself. It makes perfect sense that his partnership with The Saturday Evening Post, his most visible platform, drew to a close in 1963, the year of President John F. Kennedy's death and of mounting racial strife, the year that the shattering of the American dream began in earnest" (Roberta Smith, The New York Times, Reviews column, July 7, 1989 ).
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