Lot 5
  • 5

Norman Rockwell

Estimate
300,000 - 500,000 USD
Sold
375,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Norman Rockwell
  • Me and My Pal: The Bath
  • signed Norman/Rockwell (lower right)
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

Commissioned by the present owner from the artist

Literature

Brown & Bigelow, Four Seasons calendar, winter 1954
Jan Wahl, The Norman Rockwell Storybook, New York, 1969, p. 31
Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, no. A136, p. 317, illustrated p. 316
Bruce Rubenstein, The Rockwell Heist, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2013, p. 14, illustrated p. 17

Catalogue Note

Brown & Bigelow commissioned Norman Rockwell to create images for its Four Seasons calendar series from 1948 through 1964. Each year, the calendar had one central theme on which Rockwell painted four separate illustrations, one for each season. The suite of images took the audience through a year in the life of two central characters, often a young couple or a boy and his dog, and depicted them engaged in a seasonal activity such as ice skating in the winter or swimming in the summer. In addition to appearing as calendar illustrations, Rockwell’s images were reprinted in other forms, including as prints and other collectible items, which allowed them to become widely known and beloved by the American public. 

Executed with an eye for exacting naturalism and painted in a vignette-style format on a white background, Rockwell’s Four Seasons calendars exemplify his seemingly effortless ability to imbue all of his works with a strong narrative element and indeed, attest to the strong cinematic quality that infuses his most successful compositions. When considered together, the paintings in an annual suite closely resemble the frames of a film, with Rockwell providing the primary plot but encouraging his viewers to use their own imaginations to fill in the details of the overarching narrative. The success and enduring popularity of the Four Seasons calendars speaks to Rockwell’s ability to select widely appealing subjects that would resonate with almost all Americans, and to inject humor into scenes of everyday life. “It is easy to see that had he not been a gifted artist,” states his biographer Christopher Finch, “Norman Rockwell might have become a successful writer or director for films or television. Situation comedy has been one of the most popular genres in both these mediums, and no one has a better knack for inventing comedic situations than Rockwell” (102 Favorite Paintings by Norman Rockwell, New York, 1978, p. 124).

Me and My Pal: The Bath and Two Old Men and Dog: No Swimming are both quintessential examples of Rockwell’s work for Brown & Bigelow. The artist painted both works during the 1950s, the decade which witnessed the pinnacle of the artist’s creative and technical abilities.
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