Lot 7
  • 7

Norman Rockwell

Estimate
1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
Sold
2,055,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Norman Rockwell
  • Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party
  • signed Norman/Rockwell (lower right)
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

Otto Storch, New York (gift from the artist)
By descent to the present owner (his wife)

Literature

McCall's, December 1964, cover illustration
Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, no. C170, p. 63, illustrated 

Catalogue Note

Between 1917 and 1969, Rockwell created 21 story illustrations for McCall’s, which billed itself as the ‘First Magazine for Women.’ With a circulation of more than eight million issues a month, its reach was even larger than that of The Saturday Evening Post. Appearing on the cover of the Christmas issue of McCall’s in 1964, Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party is the only cover illustration Norman Rockwell created for the publication and demonstrates the artist’s continued interest in family life (Fig. 1). As Virginia Mecklenberg observes, “We take on the persona as well as the viewpoint of a child; Rockwell emotionally transports us to a moment of childhood that erases subsequent experience” (as quoted in Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steve Spielberg, New York, 2010, p. 183).

The impressive sense of naturalism that Rockwell achieves in Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party is a result of his complex technical process, which he developed and refined throughout the early decades of his career. The introduction of the miniature 35-mm camera in the mid-1930s revolutionized the job of illustrators by allowing them to paint from photographs instead of live models. Rockwell initially resisted this change but with the encouragement of a younger generation of artists that included Steven Dohanos and John Falter, he began to integrate photography into his creative process by 1937. With a clear vision of the intended picture, Rockwell would pose the models and demonstrate the expressions he wanted them to hold.  For Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party, Rockwell posed the young model at the top of the stairs in his own home and assembled a group of friends and neighbors downstairs (Fig. 2). Once he was satisfied with the photos, Rockwell would return to his studio and combine his preliminary sketches with the photos to create a series of small-scale color studies. These preliminary sketches allowed Rockwell to experiment with color and provide a glimpse into the artist’s creative process. After executing several color studies for Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party, one of which is presented as Lot 9, Rockwell ultimately decided to add additional details to the present work and final painting, including the young girl’s doll and wreath on the banister. 

Please note this lot is accompanied by a copy of the December 1964 McCall's for which the present work served as the cover illustration. 

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