Lot 54
  • 54

Norman Rockwell

Estimate
1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
Sold
1,215,000 USD
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Description

  • Norman Rockwell
  • The Little Model
  • signed Norman/Rockwell (lower left)
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

By descent in the family of the artist

Exhibited

Eugene, Oregon, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon (on loan)

Literature

Collier's, March 29, 1919, cover illustration
Arthur Leighton Guptill, Norman Rockwell, Illustrator, New York, 1970, p. 75
Thomas Buechner, Norman Rockwell: Artist & Illustrator, New York, 1970, illustrated pl. 103, p. 67
Mary Moline, Norman Rockwell Encyclopedia: A Chronological Catalogue of the Artist’s Work, 1910-1978, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1979, p. 15
Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, no. C30, p. 14, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Norman Rockwell painted The Little Model for the March 29, 1919 cover of Collier's magazine. Created when the artist was just 25 years old, the work is among the earliest images he executed as a commission for a prominent American publication. It is one of four works Rockwell painted for the cover of Collier's in 1919, demonstrating the increasing demand for young artist's work in this early period.

The Little Model is an exceptional example of Rockwell’s ability to capture the tender moments of childhood and adolescence with his sharp insight and characteristic humor. Here he depicts a young girl imitating the elegant pose of a fashion model whose image she studies from a well-worn poster that adorns the wall. The protagonist has done her best to emulate the model’s stylish attire as well, substituting her sophisticated fur stole for a tattered shawl and her chic feathered cap for a straw boater hat that has seen better days. The girl’s faithful dog—another characteristic Rockwell touch—stands by during this brief game of pretend.

Rendered primarily in a limited palette of black, white and red, The Little Model exemplifies Rockwell’s early aesthetic and technique, featuring the vignette-style format and more painterly manner of execution that characterizes the compositions he produced in the first two decades of his career. These stylistic decisions undoubtedly reflect Rockwell’s admiration for the paintings of Joseph Christian Leyendecker, the most celebrated American illustrator of the time. By 1919, Leyendecker’s aesthetic had achieved a pervasive level of recognition among consumers. During this period known as The Golden Age of American Illustration, this prolific artist produced hundreds of magazine, book and advertising illustrations for many of the country’s leading companies and publications, including Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post.

In addition to the influence of Leyendecker that is evident here, The Little Model also demonstrates the wonderful imagination and gift for storytelling that Rockwell imbued all of his works with from the earliest years of his career. These indelible qualities ultimately make every Rockwell image one that is distinctly his own. Indeed, Rockwell went on to succeed his mentor as the most celebrated American illustrator of the twentieth century, allowing a generation to come of age with Rockwell’s subtly nostalgic and persistently optimistic vision of American life.

Rockwell gave The Little Model to his aunt as a gift in the 1920s. The painting has since remained in this private family collection, passing first from the original owner to her son and then to her granddaughter in the 1950s.
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