DescriptionNorman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978)
Norman Rockwell Visits a County Agent in Jay, Indiana, The Saturday Evening Post, July 24, 1948
Watercolor and gouache on paper
9-1/2 x 12-3/4 inches (24.1 x 32.4 cm) (sheet)
Initialed lower right: NR
Private collection, Stockbridge, New York, gift from the above, 1961.
One of the professions that Norman Rockwell profiled in his over 1,000 illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post was that of the county agricultural agent, a "uniquely American institution." For a four-page article in the July 24, 1948 Post, Rockwell shadowed County Agent Herald Rippey of Jay, Indiana, chronicling in ten illustrations his eclectic job activities: laying out a terrace line for soil conservation, culling hens, lecturing to the Rotarians about the fiscal ties between the city and the farm, testing recipes prepared by the Home Economics Club, meeting with specialists from Purdue University on plant research, and examining the Guernsey calf of a fourteen-year-old 4-H Club member.
This illustration from the cover page of the article shows Rippey engaged in an especially important task, analyzing the soil of a farm to be used in fertilizer experiments. Rockwell underscores Rippey's weathered face and hands in the wrinkles of his pants and shirt, and he makes him "at one with the earth" by rendering him in grey-brown tones, squatting close to the ground. The article further elaborates on Rippey's heroic nature:
"'An agent has to be all man,' Rockwell told us. 'He's a farm expert, educator, organizer, diplomat and trouble shooter' . . . .
"No one county agent is exactly 'typical,' but Herald Rippey is an authentic sample of the 3000 who serve the rural United States. He is forty-four - about average. Like most, he grew up on a farm and studied agriculture in college; he has a degree from Purdue University. He is handsomer than the general run, county agents or otherwise. His salary, somewhat more than the average of $3900 a year, comes jointly from the United States Department of Agriculture, Jay County, and Purdue's Agricultural Extension Department. . . .
"The county agent carries a heavier, more complex load these days. Last year Rippey drove 20,000 miles, visited more than 800 farms, gave advice to more than 3800 farmers who came to his office, and attended 369 meetings, as many as three in one evening.
"His one wish is for more time for his family and for fishing and hunting. But when Mrs. Rippey once suggested that he find a job with more pay and less arduous hours, he replied, 'Sure, I'll change -- if you can name one where I'll be as well satisfied.' The subject hasn't come up since" (The Saturday Evening Post, "Norman Rockwell Visits a County Agent," July 24, 1948, pp. 30-33).
Sheet is secured to mount with archival corners; there appears to be minor overall paper discoloration with a passage of lighter tint along top edge, most likely due to previous mounting technique; a couple tiny dots of discoloration and possible foxing in paper to the right of figure; minor matburn along edges, not visible when framed; framed under glass. Framed Dimensions 15.25 X 18.25 Inches
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