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    Description

    Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978)
    Excuse Me! (Soldier Escorting Woman), Judge Magazine Cover, July 1917
    Oil on canvas
    28 x 25 inches (71.1 x 63.5 cm)
    Signed lower left: Norman / Rockwell

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Liberty Bond Auction, fundraiser for World War I;
    Collection of Bert Charrot, acquired from the above;
    Judy and Alan Goffman Fine Art, New York;
    M.S. Rau, New Orleans, Louisiana;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2008.

    LITERATURE:
    L.N. Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Vol. 2, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 32-33, fig. C82, illustrated.

    Norman Rockwell's art continues to reassure and touch Americans of every generation who experience the strife of war. This is but one reason among many why his art endures, why his images of long-ago yesterday's resonate today and all the days after.

    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)

    The subject of war, and the pain and apprehension associated with seeing loved ones head into battle, is a universal concept that Americans understand, regardless of class, race, gender and social standing. Before television and movies, magazines and newspapers were the public's sources of news related to wartime. Rockwell understood his profound responsibility, and didn't take the task lightly.

    As the artist himself wrote, "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; women go to work...in 1917 I couldn't read a newspaper without finding an idea for a cover...Oh, ideas were dropping from trees, from the lips of babes...All this made my work much easier. I was pretty well satisfied with myself, knocking out covers and illustrations for Life, the Post, Judge, Leslie's, Country Gentleman, receiving three or four fan letters a week, making quite a bit of money." (T. Rockwell, My Adventures as an illustrator: The Definitive Edition, New York, 2019, pp. 146-48)

    Painted in 1917 for the cover of Judge magazine, Excuse Me! (Soldier Escorting Woman) is one of Rockwell's earliest magazine covers devoted to the idealized, innocent young soldier, predating the artist's iconic World War II Post covers, including but not limited to Breaking Home Ties, Home on Leave and his legendary Willie Gillis series. Judge published six Rockwell covers between 1917 and 1919, several of them focusing on war and young soldiers, and all closely related to the artist's work done for Literary Digest and Life during the same years.

    Of the six covers for Judge, Excuse Me! is arguably the most touching, the most classically Rockwell. It is a poignant scene depicting a beautiful young woman dressed in her Sunday finest, a dramatically ornate pink ruffled dress and matching hat, as she walks away from a suitor, arms linked with a dashing young soldier. She chose the soldier over the handsome civilian. The message is clear: Americans support their troops, in any and all ways, and our sons who head off to war are the true heroes, practically on par with celebrities of the time. Such paintings as Excuse Me! brought a sense of comfort and pride to the friends and family of soldiers away at war. The history of the present work is as patriotic as the subject itself, having initially sold at a Liberty Bond auction, a fundraiser for World War I shortly after the work was finished.

    Steven Spielberg once said, "Aside from being an astonishingly good storyteller, Rockwell spoke volumes about a certain kind of American morality. It is a morality based on popular values and patriotism, a morality that yearns above all for goodness to trump evil." (L.N. Moffatt, "The People's Painter," in M.H. Hennessey and A. Knutson, Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People, New York, 1999, p. 26) The scope of Rockwell's appeal is still expanding as new generations live through the same quintessentially American types of experiences that Rockwell so faithfully depicted in his art.

    "For six decades, through two World Wars, the Great Depression, unprecedented national prosperity and radical social change, Norman Rockwell held up a mirror to America and reflected its identity through the portraits he painted of its people...Rockwell's paintings have done more than just sell magazines. They are in a large measure the visual memory of a nation." (V. Crenson, Norman Rockwell's Portrait of America, New York, 1989, p. 9) Covering a sweeping range of topics, including the difficult subject of war, Rockwell helped forge a sense of national identity through his art, and this sense of patriotism is as prevalent today as it was when Excuse Me! was painted in 1917.


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



    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *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
    May, 2021
    7th Friday
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