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    Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978)
    Home for Thanksgiving, The Saturday Evening Post cover, November 24, 1945
    Oil on canvas
    35 x 33 inches (88.9 x 83.8 cm)
    Signed and inscribed lower center: Thanksgiving / Norman Rockwell
    Bears inscription on the reverse: P765

    Property from the E.M. Connor Post #193 American Legion, Winchendon, Massachusetts, Being Sold To Benefit Operational and Building Funds

    Monsignor Wilfred Tisdale, New York;
    The E.M. Connor Post #193 American Legion of Winchendon, Winchendon, Massachusetts, gift from the above, circa 1950.

    Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, January, 1989-June 4, 1990;
    Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, November 6, 1991-January 1992;
    New York Historical Society, New York, and elsewhere, "Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms," May 25, 2018-May 31, 2021 (as Thanksgiving: Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes).

    A.L. Guptil, Norman Rockwell Illustrator, New York, 1946, p. 189, illustrated;
    M. Moline, Norman Rockwell Encyclopedia: A Chronological Catalog of the Artist's Work 1910-1978, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1979, p. 71, fig. 1-343, illustrated;
    L.N. Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Vol. 1, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, p. 163, fig. C423, illustrated (as Thanksgiving: Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes);
    V. Mecklenberg, T. McCarthy, Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, New York, 2010, pp. 214-15, no. 5, illustrated.

    Norman Rockwell continues to move - to reassure -- Americans of every generation who have experienced firsthand the strife of war. That is but one reason among many why his art endures, why his images of long-ago yesterdays continue to resonate. A U.K. newspaper, of all places, said it well in 2013, when The Guardian noted that "in the dark days of the second world war, Rockwell played a critical role in helping Americans on the home front understand what was at stake in the fighting going on in Europe and the Pacific."

    The narrative depicted in the beloved and oft-reproduced masterwork Home for Thanksgiving tells a story far greater than just that of the scene at hand. Commissioned for the November 24, 1945, issue of The Saturday Evening Post, this painting tells the tale of the first Thanksgiving after the Allies' victory. It is not just the story of an individual soldier and his proud, doting mother, but that of the nation.

    For many, Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. It represents a sense of warmth, home, family, and tradition. Rockwell created several Thanksgiving paintings and illustrations, ranging from the heartwarming to the humorous. The most well-known of these is likely Freedom from Want (also known as The Thanksgiving Picture or I'll Be Home for Christmas), which depicts a grandmother serving her family with an enormous, fresh-roasted turkey. The painting was inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union Address and features the artist's friends and family. An earlier illustration from 1917, Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey, demonstrates Rockwell's fanciful side, showing a turkey chasing a young boy - the hunter becoming the hunted. Simply put, a family-oriented, warm and cozy holiday tradition is the antidote to the violence and fear associated with war.

    The subject of war, and the pain and apprehension related to seeing loved ones head into battle, is a universal concept Americans understand, regardless of class, race, gender and social standing. Before television and movies, magazines and newspapers were the public's sources of news. Rockwell understood his profound responsibility, and didn't take the task lightly. Rockwell, writes Christopher Finch, "is far from being a warlike person; he is, on the contrary, a gentleman in the literal sense of the word. Yet the war brought out the best in him and turned him toward the naturalistic portrait of home-town America which he put to good use in the decades that followed. His immediate contribution to the war effort on the home front was quite considerable. What is most important about this period, in relation to his career as an illustrator, is the fact that he was given this opportunity to prove to himself and to others that he was capable of dealing with serious subjects without abandoning the human touch which had always been his trademark." (Norman Rockwell's America, New York, 1975, p. 200)

    As the artist himself wrote on the subject of war: "One of the most difficult problems in painting magazine covers is thinking up ideas which a majority of readers will understand. The farmer worries about the price of milk; the housewife fusses over the drapes for the dining room; the gossip gossips about Mrs. Purdy and her highfalutin airs. You have to think of an idea which will mean something to all of them. ... In wartime the problem vanishes. Everyone in the country is thinking along the same lines, the war penetrates into everyone's life. Johnny Sax, the boy next door, joins up; sugar can't be bought for blood or money; war bond posters are plastered all over town...And during a war there's always a crowd of new and different ideas hanging around. Everything's changed. Men go off to war." (T. Rockwell, My Adventures as an Illustrator: The Definitive Edition, New York, 2019, pp. 146-48)

    With the trials and tribulations of going to and returning from the battlefield in mind, Rockwell was preoccupied with communicating how Americans felt at once triumphant and exhausted after so many years of conflict and so many lives lost. Rockwell sought to memorialize in a meaningful way how soldiers and their families acclimated back to 'normal life' once wartime ended. In his words: "The transition from war to peace gave me the chance to do several covers of the home-coming type. Four of the above might be so described: those of the returned soldier, the hammock-resting sailor, the souvenir bearing marine, and the veteran doing K.P. [kitchen patrol] and liking it." (as quoted in A.L. Guptil, Norman Rockwell Illustrator, New York, 1946, p. 189)

    Rockwell's artistic response to the end of World War II is evident in his several optimistic and heartwarming depictions of experiences on the home front-by workers, children, parents, and loved ones waiting for the soldiers' return. "Along with the 'Freedom' quartet, the simplest, most eloquent and moving of these are his various depictions of homecomings. He had worked in this vein at the end of World War I, albeit in comparatively obvious fashion. But his 1945 World War II series-including the Homecoming, Homecoming Marine, and Home for Thanksgiving (Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes) were all so fleshed out and piercing that they could have been scenes from movies. In their emotional impact, they anticipated the heart-stopping moment when Al Stephenson (played by Frederic March) quietly returns to his family after years at war in William Wyler's Oscar-winning The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)." (V. Mecklenberg, T. McCarthy, Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, New York, 2010, p. 214)

    Rockwell regularly employed friends and neighbors as models for his paintings, and Home for Thanksgiving is no exception. Initially, Rockwell had traveled to Maine to capture images of a family for reference, but according to Rockwell Museum curator Linda Pero: "He had problems in the drawings." The composition and subjects chosen at this time did not adequately suggest the feeling of homecoming that the artist desired, the young man did not show the war weariness so critical to the painting's message. Ultimately this led to Rockwell choosing Sarah (sometimes Saara, from the Old Country) Hagelberg and her son Richard, Rockwell's milkman and former bombardier during the war, as subjects in Home for Thanksgiving. Rockwell paints the soldier's shoulder patch and ribbons inaccurately in detail, but accurately enough to identify the subject as a member of the Allied Forces Headquarters, with the "AF" standing for Allied Forces. The ribbons are the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service ribbon, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.

    After owning this iconic and highly important Rockwell for close to 50 years, the E.M. Connor Post #193 American Legion of Winchendon in Massachusetts has decided consign to at Heritage Auctions. Due to declining membership and the need for major improvements to the Post, the time has come to sell -- a gut-wrenching but necessary decision. The Post building is not only a home for Veterans, Sons of the Legion and Auxiliary, it is widely used by the various organizations within the Winchendon community.

    There is a certain sense of poetry, of life coming full circle, as present-day military heroes part with an endearingly patriotic depiction of a World War II military hero. May this painting bring as much excitement and joy to the new owner as it did to the Winchendon American Legion.

    More information about Norman Rockwell, also known as Rockwell, Norman, Rockwell, Norman Perceval.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    Framed Dimensions 39.5 X 37.5 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. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. 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. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2021
    5th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 13,576

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 15% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

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