When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, one of my weekly delights was the arrival of The Saturday Evening Post especially if the cover was a painting by Norman Rockwell. I didn’t know much about painting (I still don’t) but I knew those Rockwell paintings resonated with me. Rockwell captured the essence of the subjects he explored: American Life, family life, workers, children, Christmas, and romance. Somehow, Rockwell’s creations seemed real to me and captured Life at that time. Critics dismissed Norman Rockwell as a commercial artist who painted the banality of American Life.

I don’t own many art books, but I do have a copy of Norman Rockwell’s America (1975) in my book collection. I enjoy the dozens of examples of classic Rockwell artwork that still have the power to tap into my emotions. This is high-test nostolgia at its best!

Do you remember Norman Rockwell’s paintings? Do you have a favorite? GRADE: A

Opening Photographic Essay by John Bryson
Introduction 15
The Setting 33
Growing Up in America 47
Young Love 76
Home and Family 95
Growing Old in America 119
The American Past in Fact and Fiction 139
Democracy 161
So You Want to See the President 177
Americans in Uniform 193
Americans at Work 205
The Sporting Life 225
An American Gallery 243
Christmas 255
Post Covers 267
Biographical Outline 307
Index to Illustrations 309


  1. Deb

    I’ve grown to appreciate him (especially his talent, if not his subject matter) more as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger, I found him saccharine, obvious, and emotionally manipulative. Now I can see beyond my youthful arrogance of thinking my artistic opinion was absolute. He’s still not a favorite, but I can see that he was quintessentially the mid-century American illustrator.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, I grew up with Norman Rockwell’s artwork arriving on magazine covers. Many “artists” called Rockwell a hack, but his work is still remembered fondly in this house.

  2. Patti Abbott

    Exactly what Deb said. He is as much a chronicler of the life we wished we had had as what we did have. If that makes sense.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    That one with the little black girl was memorable. Also, there was one with a little boy getting a haircut (I think). But yes, I agree with Deb and Patti. I was never a big fan then, but they are a part of Americana, much like Irving Berlin songs.

  4. Michael Padgett

    Guess I should get here earlier. Deb and Patti have already nailed it. I also grew up in the Fifties and kept a sharp eye on the mailbox on whatever day it was that the Post generally arrived.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, my children would never understand the intensity of emotion generated by THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, TIME, NEWSWEEK, LIFE, etc. My parents subscribed to a dozen magazines and I loved them all back in the 1950s and 1960s.

      1. wolf

        Ah, those magazines which to a young foreigner showed the interesting life in the USA …
        I read them as often as possible – in the 60s as a student in the America House, later in the 70s on business flights where you always had a selection of stuff to read.
        I must have seen many covers by Rockwell – remember too that picture of the little black girl.

  5. Rick Robinson

    I think it’s too easy to have that critical attitude that the others express. I felt a little the way to when I was full of myself in Art College, but soon realized he was both a fine artist, in concept and execution, but also reflected life in his times. Probably the best artist of humorous subjects we’ve every had, and well worth enjoying without critical prejudice.

    The one I have is 332 Magazine Covers by Norman Rockwell edited by Christopher Finch, published by Abbeville Press/Randon House in 1979. It has all the Saturday Evening Post covers and many others, in fact all that he did. The book is huge, 12 x 15.5 inches, over two inches thick, and includes many of the rough sketches and layouts as well.

  6. Jerry House

    As a very young boy, Norman Rockwell’s America WAS my America. Later, when I realized it was an idolized version of America, I still appreciated both the conception and the products of his work, in great part because his people were real people — friends and neighbors he drafted to pose for him.

  7. Cap'n Bob

    I, too, loved the covers he did for SEP and they’re a part of my childhood! I also saw an exhibit of his work at our local art museum years ago and his originals are a treat to behold! If I have a favorite it’s the one with the soldier returning home to a dilapidated apartment house!

  8. Todd Mason

    Ballantine Books, as part of their search for the new and possibly fruitful in things to publish (and missing the MAD franchise they were the first to put in paperback form) published a selection of college humor magazine articles (a decade before NATIONAL LAMPOON was a gleam but just as the 1960s MONOCLE was making the leap into professional publication, and of course some decades after COLLEGE HUMOR hit the newsstands) they called COLLEGE PARODIES, and one of the most on-target was a cover for THE SATURDAY EVENING PEST by Normal Wellwell. But after encountering the often fine work that was deftly parodied by that image, one moves on to the school integration painting one sees reproduced above, and one thinks of Rockwell moved to rage and sadness, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST–not, one recalls, in any way Not a conservative voice on the scene–moved to commission that work from him, and one is reminded of all the ugly times we’ve always faced, and how even those who are not progressive nor in any way reflexively on the side of the oppressed can look at a situation and allow basic decency to hold forth. And celebrate the kind of bravery those kids demonstrated, on behalf of us all. Rockwell helped cement his legacy with that work.

  9. Rick Robinson

    George, I’m reading – there is a lot of text and analysis – the 332 Covers book now, enjoying it immensely, and may do a FFB for next week on it, with kudos to you, of course.


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