DescriptionNORMAN ROCKWELL (American 1894 - 1978)
Willie Gillis: New Year's Eve, 1943, original Saturday Evening Post cover preliminary drawing, with a Group of 2 reference photos
Graphite on paper
Image area: 5 x 4in.; overall paper size: 11 x 8-1/2in.
A group of two black and white reference photos is also included in this lot.
A "Willie Gillis"-themed cover scene based on this preliminary study appeared on the January 1, 1944 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Norman Rockwell based the character of Willie Gillis on the real-life person of Bob Buck. Susan E. Meyer recounts the backstory of this scene in her text for Norman Rockwell's World War II: Impressions From the Homefront, "Although he had been exempted from the draft, Bob Buck felt he could not simply stay at home while a war was going on. To his dismay, Rockwell lost his Willie Gillis in 1943, when Buck enlisted as an aviator in the Navy." The story is picked up in Rockwell's 1960 autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, "No! said the editors of the Post. You can't drop him; he's too popular. Which posed a problem. I didn't have a model. All I had were old photographs of Bob Buck. I painted Willie's girl faithfully sleeping at midnight on New Year's Eve, three photographs of Willie tacked on the wall above her bed." On a side note, one of artist Mead Schaeffer's lovely daughters was the model for Willie's girl.
Collection of Mr. Donald Walton
The pieces average Excellent condition.
Rockwell, Norman:Born in New York City on February 3, 1894, Norman Rockwell began his illustrious career at a young age, receiving his first commission to paint Christmas cards at sixteen and illustrating his first book just the following year. Rockwell’s artwork made its debut on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on May 20, 1916, becoming his first of 323 covers that would be published by the iconic American magazine over the next 47 years. Accordingly, his success with The Post captured the attention of other publications including Life, Judge and Leslie’s, and the young artist enjoyed a fruitful income throughout the 1920s. He received commissions from household names such as Jell-O, Boy Scouts of America and Orange Crush soda, among others. The 1930s and 40s also proved to be prolific periods in Rockwell’s career, despite some critics who pigeonholed his work as “kitschy”— intended for reproduction use only and therefore lacking in true artistic merit. Even some of his contemporaries referred to Rockwell as an “illustrator” instead of a painter—a label he willingly embraced. Nevertheless, Rockwell used his creative platform to draw upon social and cultural issues facing America and was praised by the public for his ability to capture the triumphs and tribulations of the common man. His political and social commentary became more apparent during the latter part of his career, and he began to receive greater recognition as an artist when he contributed to several projects condemning racism and stressing the importance of integration for the younger generations. His influence on society remains memorialized not only through his paintings but also the publications, advertisements and literature that exposed his body of work to a wider audience and allowed the greater public to appreciate what he had to say.
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