Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

Boy with Two Dogs (Raleigh Rockwell Travels)

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Boy with Two Dogs (Raleigh Rockwell Travels)
signed 'Norman/Rockwell' (lower right)--inscribed '928/11' (lower center)
oil on canvas
31 x 24¼ in. (78.7 x 61.6 cm.)
Painted in 1929.
Mr. and Mrs. Athlee Kohl, Chicago, Illinois.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard O'Connor.
Bernard Danenberg Galleries, Inc., New York.
Joan B. Kroc, California, acquired from the above.
Estate of the above.
Christie's, New York, 25 May 2006, lot 143.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
The Saturday Evening Post, September 28, 1929, cover illustration.
T. Buechner, Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator, New York, 1970, no. 245, illustrated.
T. Buechner, Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1972, p. 47.
W. Hillcourt, Norman Rockwell's World of Scouting, New York, 1977, p. 75.
L.N. Moffatt, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 116-17, no. C309, illustrated.
C. Finch, Norman Rockwell: 332 Magazine Covers, New York, 2013, pp. 145, 368, illustrated (as Making Friends).
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, and elsewhere, Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective, May 26-July 23, 1972, no. 17.

Lot Essay

Boy with Two Dogs (Raleigh Rockwell Travels) was published on the cover of the September 29th, 1929 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. This endearing work depicts a young runaway boy with his dog, stopping to pet Norman Rockwell's beloved Collie, Raleigh. By September 1929, the country was on the brink of financial turmoil. This cover directly pre-dates the stock market crash that precipitated The Great Depression, however, the fall in stock prices had already begun, signaling a downturn in the economy. Rockwell's representations of America's youth were already a staple of his career and considered a beloved record of American life throughout the early 20th century. While Boy with Two Dogs (Raleigh Rockwell Travels) has all of the charm of his very best Post covers, it is a more poignant representation of American youth in the early 20th century.

Boy with Two Dogs (Raleigh Rockwell Travels) depicts a young Mark Twain-esque boy and his dog stopping to pet Raleigh Rockwell. While the young boy's demeanor is delightful, and seemingly full of the sweet innocence of youth, Rockwell has provided other visual clues that suggest a more challenging existence. The young boy's hat and pants are torn and he is without shoes. His hands are dirty and even his dog appears mangy. He is kneeling beside his trunk and small traveling bag, indicating that he is on the move and all alone, apart from his dog. This simple interaction with the well-groomed Collie appears to have lifted his spirits and allowed him to momentarily forget his journey and his troubles.

To many people, The Saturday Evening Post and Norman Rockwell are synonymous. "For a majority of Americans who lived through the rapid growth and change of the twentieth century, the Rockwell covers represent an identifiable and comfortable image of life in the United States." (L.N. Moffatt, "Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue", Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1986, p. 72) Yet to limit Rockwell to depicting the 'American Dream' is to overlook his most important works. As Victoria Crenson writes, "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) His most memorable and lasting subjects are those that did not sugar coat the travails of the nation.

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