Norman Rockwell painted No Credit Given
for the May 1917 cover of People’s Popular Monthly
. The work is among the earliest images the artist created on commission for a prominent American publication, executed when the artist was just 23 years old. Rockwell ultimately painted only three works for the cover of this magazine, likely due to the attention he would increasingly devote to commissions for The Saturday Evening Post
A charming image of two children attempting to buy candy in a general store, No Credit Given
is an exceptional example of Rockwell’s early aesthetic. Rendered in a limited palette of black, white and red pigments, it also features the vignette-style format and more painterly manner of execution that characterizes the work he produced in the first two decades of the 20th century. These stylistic qualities undoubtedly reflect Rockwell’s admiration of the paintings of Joseph Christian Leyendecker, who was the most celebrated American illustrator of the time, a period often referred to as the Golden Age of American Illustration. By 1917, Leyendecker’s aesthetic had achieved a pervasive level of recognition, as this prolific artist produced hundreds of magazine, book and advertising illustrations for many of the country’s leading companies and publications including The Post
Despite the clear appreciation for Leyendecker apparent in works from this early period, No Credit Given also demonstrates the wonderful imagination and gift for storytelling that infused Rockwell’s compositions from the first years of his career. Indeed, Rockwell would go on to replace Leyendecker as the most celebrated of the artists associated with The Post by the beginning of the 1930s. He ultimately created over 300 images for its cover over a nearly 50-year period, allowing a generation to grow up with Rockwell's subtly humorous and distinctively optimistic vision of American life.