Description

    Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978)
    Portrait of a Young Boy (possibly intended for Crest toothpaste advertisement), circa 1955
    Oil on canvas
    11 x 11 inches (27.9 x 27.9 cm)
    Signed lower right: Norman / Rockwell

    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, New York, acquired circa 1960s;
    [With]American Illustrators Gallery, New York;
    By descent to the present owner.

    LITERATURE:
    L. N. Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, p. 1044, no. P212, illustrated.

    Norman Rockwell's numerous illustrations of children and adolescents speak to the idealism, hard work, and family focus of a wartime generation. The father of three sons, Rockwell documented boyhood experiences especially well. His various characters - whether Boy Scout, Huck Finn, athlete, student, or prankster - demonstrate through humor or sentimentality almost every conceivable event in the life of a boy, from getting a first haircut and going fishing with friends, to learning how to pay a tip and leaving home for college. Portrait of a Young Boy, circa 1955, personifies post-World War II mainstream values of wholesomeness, good manners, and a clean-cut appearance. Seemingly straight out of a Leave It to Beaver episode, which aired on TV around this same time, the model sports the "proper" burr haircut, buttoned-up shirt and tie, and perfect smile.

    Portrait of a Young Boy was never published, yet it was possibly an early study for one of Rockwell's most successful ad campaigns, "Look, Mom, no Cavities!" for Crest toothpaste. Appearing in such magazines as Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post from 1957-59, these ads feature a bust-length exuberant child, smiling broadly to show off sparkling teeth, and holding in one hand a glowing report card from the dentist's office. The approximately twenty Crest girls and boys ranged in age from elementary school through high school and represented all of the seasons, some wearing scarves, gloves, and knit caps, and others, straw hats and short-sleeved shirts. Rockwell made report card content purposefully legible, for example, "Centerville Dental Clinic: Mrs. Ryan, Not a single new cavity for Jimmy this trip - I've never seen his teeth in better condition. HJ." And ad content boasted a powerful new ingredient: "A toothpaste with the same decay-fighter dentists use - Crest Toothpaste with fluoride." The unidentified model in Portrait of a Young Boy bears the same characteristics as the "Crest kids": he is positioned frontally, flashing his white teeth, and holding up his left fist, where Rockwell normally placed the dentist's note.



    Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000.

    Condition Report*:

    This work has been lined and restored. There are no retouches in the face or the hand. There are a few tiny dots of retouch in the collar of the figure on the left. There are also intermittent dots of retouching in the white background that can be seen under ultraviolet light examination. The signature seems to be unretouched. The work is in good condition and should be hung in its current state. Framed Dimensions 23 X 23 Inches

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2016
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
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