Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

Good for Young and Old

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Good for Young and Old
signed 'Norman/Rockwell' (lower right)
oil on canvas
30 x 45¼ in. (76.2 x 114.9 cm.)
Painted in 1921.
Sale: Illustration House, Inc., New York, 3 May 1997, lot 83.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
T. Buechner, Norman Rockwell: Artist & Illustrator, New York, 1970, p. 127, illustrated.
L.N. Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, vol. I, p. 506, no. A665, illustrated.
D.R. Stoltz, The Advertising World of Norman Rockwell, New York, 1985, p. 152.

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Lot Essay

During his sixty-three year career as America's preeminent illustrator Norman Rockwell often portrayed the nostalgic subjects that capture a bygone moment in the nation's history. Good for Young and Old is a heartwarming scene that exemplifies Rockwell's ability to imbue familiar scenes with a narrative and sensitivity that often rekindles a poignant personal memory for the viewer. Painted in 1921 for the cough medicine company Piso's, the work depicts two young boys and their grandfather bundled up in scarves and hats sliding merrily across a frozen sidewalk. Their grandmother scolds her family from the front porch, concerned that the group will catch a cough or cold. The skating trio seems content to simply enjoy this carefree joyous moment of familial comraderie.

Through works such as Good for Young and Old and a variety of other subject matter, Rockwell encapsulates and celebrates an era of American experience. "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 painted real 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)

Throughout his career, from his earliest drawings to the patriotic themes of World War II to more politically oriented themes in his later years, Rockwell's genius was in his ability to evoke the essence and spirit of the times. In its innocent joy, Good for Young and Old fondly recalls for today's viewer, a vanished moment in the nation's history.

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