Springfield Library and Museums Association
Norman Rockwell: Drawing the American Dream
Left to right: Family Life: Boy and Dad on Dock, black conte crayon, 1960; Family Picnic, conte crayon, 1962; Cookout, conte crayon, 1961; Family at Dinner Table, pencil, c. 1952-1963, Grocery Shopping, pencil, 1955
Left to right: Growing Up: Mother Reading to Children, conte crayon, 1958; Off to School, pencil, 1952/53; Daughter Welcoming Father, conte crayon, 1961
Left to right: Holidays and Celebrations: Mother's birthday, conte crayon, 1963; Thanksgiving, pencil, 1952
Left to right: Work and Afterwards: Agent's Prestige, pencil, 1960; Woman at Office, black conte crayon, 1959
Left to right: Life Cycle: Marraige, conte crayon, 1963; Becoming Parents, conte crayon, 1963; Son's Graduation, conte crayon, 1963; Retirement Cruise, conte crayon, 1963
The Connecticut Valley Historical Museum exhibited its 40 original Norman Rockwell drawings April 13 through June 25, 1995 at the museum. The drawings then wsent on a three year national tour.
The exhibition was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, which donated the conte crayon black and white drawings to the museum. The company had commissioned the drawings from the artist during the 1950s and early 1960s for a series of national consumer advertisements which appeared in the nation's leading magazines, such as the Saturday Evening Post.
The Connecticut Valley Historical Museum's collection includes Thanksgiving and Easter which were used annually in MassMutual's advertisements for several years. The Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge recognized the advertising program, awarding MassMutual its George Washington medal in 1959 for the Thanksgiving ad.
To augment the exhibit, the Historical Museum also displayed Rockwell's painting, His First Day at School, on loan from the permanent collection of Springfield's Museum of Fine Arts.
Norman Rockwell is best known for his drawings which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, the first of which was published on the cover of the May 1916 issue. His themes of family and everyday life have given him a strong, nationwide appeal. He was quoted as saying "Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn't the perfectly pleasant place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be, so I painted only the ideal aspects of it.
Rockwell, a native of New York City, lived in Stockbridge where he died in 1978 at age 84. Many of his Stockbridge neighbors were models for his work.
Note: Conte crayon: a very hard, grease-free type of crayon, named after Nicolas-Jacques Conte (1755-1805), the French scientist who invented it. Conte, who worked as a portrait painter in his youth, was also the inventor of the modern graphite pencil.
For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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