Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Rockwell!

Norman Rockwell's Grand Daughter, Abigail, maintains the official 'Rescuing Norman Rockwell' Facebook Page (when she's not busy being a jazz singer, that is). To the delight of many, she recently posted a never before seen Norman Rockwell painting!

Abigail writes:

Forget about your New Year's resolutions.
Here's a New Year's REVELATION for you.
I happened upon this remarkable painting of my grandfather's that I had never seen before and I wanted to share it with you. It took my breath away. It's not only one of my grandfather's best works -- perhaps from the early 1920's -- I would suggest it is one of the most remarkable paintings of a young girl I have ever seen. 
I don't know the back story - in fact, my father and I could not even find it in "A Definitive Catalogue" by Laurie Norton Moffatt. But what I do know is what I observe -- the stunning quality of light that recalls one of Rockwell's greatest influences, Rembrandt. The subject appears to be a graduation of some kind, but my grandfather turns it into a Holy Communion of sorts, with her white dress, ruffles, expansive bow and ethereal light from above. It is an initiation, a passage. Even the background characters are fully realized, not caricatured in any way. The younger man sitting on the left is one of my grandfather's frequent models, Dave Campion. Simply, it is one of Rockwell's finest works and as far as I know has remained quite hidden. 
This painting is the perfect example of how my grandfather elevated illustration to a fine art -- defying categorization. 
Many blessings for a year that takes you by surprise in the very best way... And exceeds your expectations. 
You don't need to ask for the best, it is already yours.
You don't need to ask for success, it is already yours.
You don't need to ask for love, it is already yours.
Warmest wishes, as always.

It's possible this painting may have been printed or displayed somewhere prior to this, as I've found thumbnails of it dating back a few years on the internet. But to my personal recollection, I've never seen it in any of the major publications of his work.

Click HERE if you'd like to see the original post on FB, where you can share it with others and spread the Goodness that is Norman!


  1. Love it! It makes you wonder how many other treasures there might be out there. I can't stand it. :)

  2. It always makes me angry and sad to see magnificent illustrators - Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Parrish and others (including my own grandfather, who did make a living as a placard artist) denigrate themselves and allow others to diss them because they were 'only' illustrators. Right. Like throwing ugly shades of house paint on a canvas is art. Like shoveling elephant shit onto a shingle, varnishing and hanging it is 'art'.

  3. Mind blowing. He's always been one of my visual heroes.

  4. I believe this is depicting a closing speechgiven by a pupil at a primary school graduation. I have been fortunate enough to see the stunning original back in 2011 in the exhibition 'Norman Rockwell's America' at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. I have the catalogue, here is the accompanying text:

    Norman Rockwell
    'Young Valedictorian'
    c.1922, oil on canvas
    30" x 26", signed lower right

    'Young Valedictorian' is a rare example of a finished Rockwell painting which remained unpublished. There is neither the usual irony nor humour present; it is simple matter of fact coupled with a certain tenderness. Although it is not known why it went unpublished, the painting remains an important and revealing example of Rockwell's development during the 1920's. Like 'The Runaway' it looks as if it had been painted by a European Old Master and not by an American illustrator. However, this painting does not surprise those familiar with Rockwell's extensive technical abilities, his stylistic treatment of subjects, or the various stages of his career. Others are astounded that the same artist could paint such a rich canvas while working simultaneously on others as diametrically different as 'Threading The Needle' (1922).

    This work particularly demonstrates Rockwell's facility with a paintbrush. He brought extraordinary talent in almost any style or period of fine art to the canvas at will, depending upon client and assignment.