Lot 137
  • 137

Norman Rockwell

Estimate
200,000 - 300,000 USD
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Description

  • Norman Rockwell
  • Study for "Pittsfield Main Street"
  • signed Norman Rockwell (lower right) and inscribed to Mr. and Mrs. W. Rankin Furey..... (on the mount)
  • oil on celluloid
  • 8 by 24 5/8 inches
  • (20.5 by 62.5 cm)
  • Painted circa 1960.

Provenance

Mr. and Mrs. W. Rankin Furey, Pittsfield, Massachusetts (President, Berkshire Life Insurance Company)
By descent in the family of the above to the present owner

Literature

Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, vol. I, no. A38b, p. 266, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In 1958, Rockwell was commissioned by Berkshire Life Insurance Company to paint a mural-sized painting for their 100th anniversary. The painting would picture Pittsfield's main thoroughfare, including Berkshire Life's first home office at 28 North Street. It would also depict such famous individuals as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who were living in or near Pittsfield around 1851, the year the company was founded. Rockwell also intended to include portraits of some of the company's officers among the faces in the crowd. It's a holiday and the street is thronged with people. In the park, Professor So-and-so is conducting a balloon ascension. According to Berkshire Life Insurance Company, "Pittsfield was a 'balloon race start center' in the late 1800s, and the releasing of doves was a traditional part of the starting process--thus the use of the balloon as a focus in the mural." Behind the buildings are the green hills of Berkshire County. For the preliminary sketches of the street, Rockwell positioned himself at the top of a former Berkshire Life home office at the corner of Pittsfield's North and West Streets. Architect Roy Hare assisted with drafting the basic architectural framework of the buildings and street. In 1959, after the death of his wife, Mary, Rockwell asked Dean Cornwell to finish the project, but in the end, muralist Clifford Young was commissioned by Berkshire Life to complete the painting, which now hangs in the cafeteria of the home office building in Pittsfield.

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