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

"Max simply walked up that pier, pulling that fish through the water by main force."

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
"Max simply walked up that pier, pulling that fish through the water by main force."
signed 'Norman/Rockwell' (lower left)
oil en grisaille on canvas
22 x 34 in. (55.9 x 86.4 cm.)
Painted in 1917.
Lamp Post Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Private collection, acquired from the above, circa 1965-67.
By descent to the present owner.
R. Graham, "Making Good in a Boys' Camp," St. Nicholas, July 1917, p. 841, illustrated.
L.N. Moffat, Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, vol. II, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, p. 748, no. S519, illustrated.

Lot Essay

Ralph Graham’s short piece for the July 1917 issue of St. Nicholas, titled “Making Good in a Boys’ Camp,” asserts the importance of following the rules, working hard and winning the respect of fellow campers away at summer camp. To demonstrate that this is an at times difficult, yet essential and attainable proposition, Graham tells the stories of five boys—Gigs, Ruggles, Percy, Max, and Dick—who had to overcome obstacles but ultimately, through perseverance, were able to “make good” and become heroes among their peers.

Norman Rockwell’s illustration for “Making Good in a Boys’ Camp” accompanies the fourth story about Max, a ten-year-old boy who hated fishing. When Max came to camp, he did not know how to fish and did not care for the activity in any capacity. However, when the camp’s resident fishing enthusiast, John, teases and goads Max into throwing out a hook, Max manages to catch the biggest fish of the summer, wins the big-fish medal and discovers a new passion for the sport. In addition, he shares his catch with his tent-mates for a “fine breakfast of fried black-bass” and thus successfully “makes good” at camp. Rockwell’s illustration shows an inexperienced but resolute Max towing his trophy towards shore while John looks on in jaw-dropping disbelief.

St. Nicholas was a popular American children’s magazine founded in 1873 by Scribner’s. It published work by some of the country’s most renowned writers, including Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain, and offered awards for submissions by its young readers, the winners of which included F. Scott Fitzgerald and E.B. White. Rockwell published many of his earliest works with St. Nicholas while still enrolled as a student at the National Academy of Design and then the Art Students’ League. He continued to do illustrations for the magazine even after becoming art director for Boys’ Life, the major publication of the Boy Scouts of America. The present work, from 1917, was published both a year after Rockwell graduated from the Art Students' League and a year after his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post.

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