Lot 33
  • 33

NORMAN ROCKWELL | Courting Couple at Midnight

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Norman Rockwell
  • Courting Couple at Midnight
  • signed Norman/Rockwell (lower right)
  • oil on canvas laid down on board


Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, by 1972
Private collection, Hawaii 
Sold: Sotheby's, New York, March 11, 1999, lot 154
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale


Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The Fort Lauderdale Museum of the Arts; Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Museum; Washington, D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art; San Antonio, Texas, McNay Art Institute; San Francisco, California, M.H. De Young Memorial Museum; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Art Center; Indianapolis, Indiana,  Indianapolis Museum of Art; Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Norman Rockwell:  A Sixty Year Retrospective, February 1972-April 1973, no. 3, illustrated p. 21
Osaka, Japan, Hankyu Department Store, April 1975


The Saturday Evening Post, March 22, 1919, cover illustration (©SEPS licensed by Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved)
Thomas Buechner, Norman Rockwell: Artist & Illustrator, New York, 1970, illustrated fig. 113, p. 68
Christopher Finch, Norman Rockwell's America, New York, 1975, p. 83, illustrated pp. 84, 271
Dr. Donald Stoltz and Marshall L. Stoltz, Norman Rockwell and ‘The Saturday Evening Post:’ May 1916-July 1928, vol. I, New York, 1976, p. 35, illustrated p. 36
Mary Moline, Norman Rockwell Encyclopedia: A Chronological Catalogue of the Artist's Work 1910-1978, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1979, illustrated p. 37, fig. I-26 (as Courting Under the Clock at Midnight)
Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, vol. I, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, no. C206, p. 79, illustrated p. 78
Jan Cohn, Covers of “The Saturday Evening Post:" Seventy Years of Outstanding Illustration from America’s Favorite Magazine, New York, 1995, illustrated p. 83

Catalogue Note

Rendered for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on March 22, 1919, Courting Couple at Midnight reflects the central role that the theme of young romance placed in Norman Rockwell’s body of work. The young couple the artist depicts here appeared in several of his illustrations from the period, allowing the audience to follow the progression of their courtship. Rockwell regularly featured the same models in his compositions and recruited students from New Rochelle High School to pose for his paintings. As Christopher Finch observes, “Rockwell’s young lovers are generally fairly attractive but seldom glamorous. He constantly affirms the fact that everybody has the right to fall in love. He does not give us fashion-plate couples. In his treatment of young love, as in his treatment of everything else, he is devoted to the notion that ordinary folks are capable of a poetry of behavior which is as deserving of our attention as any other kind of poetry” (Norman Rockwell’s America, New York, 1975, p. 93). In the present picture Rockwell employs his characteristic sense of humor to illustrate the moment the clock strikes midnight and the couple realizes their curfew has arrived. The smitten girl leans into her date’s embrace, while he stares at the cuckoo clock willing it to turn back time. Rockwell infuses the scene with rich details, such as the yellow carnation affixed to the young man’s lapel and blue floral wallpaper, transporting his viewer to a specific time and place. Courting Couple at Midnight demonstrates not only the full extent of the artist’s technical precision and masterful draftsmanship, but also his seemingly limitless imagination, making it a remarkable example of Rockwell’s ability to elevate simple everyday stories into the aesthetic realm.