What is it about the past that makes one think everything was better? Even in times of struggle during our American history, people reflect on the events with pride for our determination to not only survive, but persevere.
Norman Rockwell’s paintings captured the trials and jubilations of America. His creations tell a story without using words. Rockwell chose everyday people to evoke the common emotions we all share- anticipation, grief, freedom, loneliness, love, and the list goes on. His advertisements, Saturday Evening Post covers, and illustrations for novels invoke a response as meaningful today, as it did in the mid 1900’s.
I have visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland, Vermont a few times. I always leave with a painting or Christmas ornament. My favorite part of visiting the museum is watching the other visitors. Their facial expressions reveal their thoughts- the illustration of ‘The Engagement’ reminds one of falling love. The pictures of family at the dinner table, citizens fighting for freedom of speech, or children nursing a dog back to health- all illustrations that could be created today, but still remind us of a time gone by.
Although Norman Rockwell will forever be known as one of the Greatest 20th Century American Painter & Illustrator, his perseverance should be equally admired. He was born in 1894- a ‘poorly coordinated boy’ who needed glasses, corrective shoes ,and dropped out of high school. He questioned his work after his divorce, but later remarried and known for saying ‘my 30’s and 40’s were the best years of my life’. He became a widower in 1959. He found love once again and remained married until his death in 1978, at the age of 84 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Norman Rockwell captured the essence of the American people. And what did he think about himself? ‘I had a couple of million dollars’ worth of stock once. And now it’s not worth much more than wallpaper. I guess I just wasn’t born to be rich.’ I think many would disagree…Norman Rockwell gave us much more than wallpaper…he gave us something to think about.