New York – Christie’s announces the top lot of the American Art auction on November 19, Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor, estimated at $10-15 million. This major, large-scale work belongs to an important series of works Norman Rockwell completed for The Saturday Evening Post at the height of his career in 1946. The painting is being sold by the National Press Club Journalism Institute, with the approval of the National Press Club, and the proceeds from the sale will benefit both nonprofit organizations.
Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on May 25, 1946. It was subsequently gifted to the National Press Club, an occasion later commemorated when Rockwell spoke at the Club on July 25, 1967. For the better part of the past seventeen years, the National Press Club Journalism Institute has kept the painting on public display in the space that it shares with the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The work has also been loaned often and generously as part of the Club's stewardship, and most recently was on long-term loan to a museum.
Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor depicts a scene at the Monroe County Appeal, a small town newspaper founded in 1867 and located in Paris, Missouri. The painting is among Rockwell’s series of pictorial reports capturing the artist visiting various places, including a country school, the doctor, and the country editor. A highly complex composition, the work depicts nine characters, each uniquely articulated with Rockwell’s signature charm, bustling in the offices of the newspaper. The paper’s editor, Jack Blanton, is seated at the typewriter and at the far right of the composition Rockwell is seen striding through the door with his portfolio firmly wedged under his arm.
“This painting of a small-town America newsroom in the 20th Century will sustain the National Press Club and National Press Club Journalism Institute in our missions to support journalism for many more decades in the 21st Century,” said National Press Club President John Hughes, an editor for Bloomberg’s First Word. “The needs in the news profession are immense – from training those who have lost jobs to fighting for a free press worldwide. The sale of this great American artwork will help expand efforts to meet these needs at a critical time for our industry. What a great legacy for Norman Rockwell.”
“We are proud to offer this iconic work of art to the art market for consideration,” said Barbara Cochran, Chair of the Board of Directors of the painting’s owner, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, and the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism, University of Missouri School of Journalism. “At a time in which the noble tradition of community-based journalism is being challenged by societal and technological transformation, Norman Rockwell’s charming and realistic portrayal of a country editor and team of journalists diligently working to share news of the day with their community readers, epitomizes the attributes of American journalism and its contribution to the life of our nation.” Cochran added that proceeds of the sale will be used to support Institute programs to uphold press freedom, develop the skills of professional journalists and communicators, and provide scholarships for future journalists.
“By 1946, not only had Rockwell’s myriad covers of the Post captured the imagination of the nation, but the artist himself was becoming a celebrity in his own right,” comments Elizabeth Beaman, Christie’s Head of American Art. “Perhaps just as importantly, Rockwell’s work adopted a new sense of earnestness in order to more accurately reflect the realities that many faced in post-War America. While Rockwell’s classic sense of idealism remained intact, his imaginative images confronting issues of the present allowed the public to identify with his interpretation of life in America.”
Permission must be obtained from Curtis Licensing for reproduction of Norman Rockwell’s Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor. | 317-633-2070
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*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.