Rockwel painting a paintingHe was in many ways the Voice of America, although few heard him speak. His paintings, however, were snapshots of our history, and so we celebrate


Born February 3, 1894 in New York City, professional illustrator Norman Rockwell transcended the boundary between popular illustration and fine art. His magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post are among the most enduringly popular and defining American images of the 20th Century.

Rockwell painted ordinary people doing ordinary things, and somehow made it seem extraordinary. The people he painted were likable, kind, capable and trustworthy, and the world he painted around them made sense.

Rockwell was never the darling of art critics, but always a popular favorite. His subjects were instantly familiar, and almost anyone could relate to the situations in which they were placed.

His eye for detail, his unabashed sentimentality and cornball optimism made him a unique voice, an American original occupying his own artistic category.

When you say “Like a Norman Rockwell painting,” powerful images are evoked of a simpler, idealized America, one artist’s vision of what we could be if we tried, good people allowing their best traits to dictate their behavior instead of their worst. A very Norman Rockwell legacy.

• Suggested Activities: Feeling very American.

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