Thursday, March 21, 2013

Norman Rockwell: Saturday Evening Post Cover Study 1944

Auction result: $203,105 on June 14, 2007.

A printed copy of the finished cover painting, for comparison.

NORMAN ROCKWELL (American 1894 - 1978)
Little Girl Observing Lovers on a Train, Saturday Evening Post cover study, 1944
Charcoal drawing on paper
33 x 28in.
Signed lower left

Norman Rockwell drew this finely detailed study for the cover scene which appeared on The Saturday Evening Post, August 12, 1944. In Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post, The Later Years, Dr. Donald R. Stoltz and Marshall L. Stoltz comment, "In this picture we see the serviceman and his best girl cherishing those few solitary moments together. Their thoughts are of only each other, and for just a little while, they will try to blot out of their minds that this leave like all other good things, must come to an end. The airman has lowered the window shade about as far as it will go and has hung his coat over the window to afford himself just a bit more privacy. Despite these precautions though, there is no way to shield themselves from the prying eyes of the young passenger in the front seat. She is closely watching the scene and waiting for that moment when the happy couple will again steal a little kiss. She will plant that picture firmly in the back of her mind so, first thing tomorrow morning, she can run and tell all her friends." In Norman Rockwell, 332 Covers, Christopher Finch adds, "Here we see a splendid example of Norman Rockwell's newly evolved style. It is very different from what we find in his work prior to the forties. It is almost as if we were looking at a candid photograph of some master of the genre like Henri Cartier-Bresson."

This work is reproduced as figure C412a on page 157 of Norman Rockwell A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Moffatt. The caption notes that this work was inscribed in the lower right, "To Pvt. William Schmidt from Norman Rockwell."

This lot also includes a signed letter from Norman Rockwell to the consignor regarding the cover scene, as well as a framed puzzle box featuring the final painted magazine cover scene. The letter, dated June 15, 1971 reads, "Thank you for sending me the photographs of my painting. It was a Saturday Evening Post cover years ago. I wish I could tell you more about it but it was done so long ago that I don't remember who the models were that posed for it. I think I did it in New Rochelle, New York, but I am not even sure of that. The name 'William Schmidt' doesn't even mean anything to me. Sorry I can't be of any more help. Sincerely yours, Norman Rockwell"

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