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Norman Rockwell

Born in New York City in 1894, Norman Rockwell is one of the most renowned artist of American culture and life. From his youth, Rockwell knew he wanted to be an artist, enrolling in art classes at the New York School of Art (formerly the Chase School of Art) at fourteen years old. When he left high school in 1910, Rockwell studied at the National Academy of Deign, and then at the Art Students League where he studied with Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman. Finding success early on life, Rockwell was commissioned for art in his teens and was hired as the art director of Boys’ Life, the Boy Scouts of America publication. At twenty-two, Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post; in time, he would paint 321 covers for the Post.

The 1930s and 40s are considered to be Rockwell’s most fruitful years; it was in this time that he and his second wife and their three sons lived in Arlington, Vermont and he began to paint the scenes of small-town America for which he is known. In 1943 he also painted his famed Four Freedoms painting, which were his interpretations of freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear, inspired by then-President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress. With this success buoying up Rockwell, he also suffered a loss in 1943 as his Arlington studio was destroyed by a fire, including many of his paintings and his collection of historical costumes and props.

In 1963 Rockwell ended his work with The Saturday Evening Post and began working with Look magazine regularly. It was during his ten years with the magazine that Rockwell’s paintings addressed some of his deepest interests and concerns, such as civil rights, the war on poverty, and the exploration of space. In 1977 Rockwell also received the Presidential Medal, America’s highest civilian honor.

Rockwell described his intentions as an artist, saying, ‘Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.’