Girl in Spanish Costume is among the numerous artistic achievements that established Norman Rockwell as one of the best known American painters of all time. As illustrations in Boy Scouts calendars and in publications like The Saturday Evening Post and Literary Digest, and as advertisements for everything from automobiles and soft drinks to tires and socks, Rockwell's timeless images entered the homes of millions of Americans. His descriptive painting style and ability to encapsulate the traditional and nearly universal values shared in the American experience contributed to his tremendous popularity and rendered him hugely successful both during his lifetime, and afterwards.
Girl in Spanish Costume is painted in Rockwell's signature descriptive style of finely drawn, clear realism with a wealth of fascinating detail. The young woman is wearing a vivid magenta colored Spanish dress, trimmed in white lace at her shoulders and her waist; she also wears a gold bangle bracelet on her left arm, and black slippers that lace up her ankles. She is seated in an upholstered armchair in an interior that seems slightly European, with its deep green walls and Continental style carpet.
In the introduction to Norman Rockwell's Portrait of America, Victoria Crenson has written: "For six decades, through two World Wars, the Great Depression, unprecedented national prosperity and radical social change, Norman Rockwell held a mirror up to America and reflected its identity through the portraits he painted of its people. Rockwell painted real people--freckles, wrinkles, big ears and all--and, like an art director, he staged entire scenes, creating settings and suggesting situations for them. His work, as reproduced on millions of magazine covers, proved to be arresting on the newsstands, and established a distinctive look for The Saturday Evening Post that was a major factor in its popularity. But Rockwell's paintings have done more than just sell magazines. They are in large measure the visual memory of a nation." (Norman Rockwell's Portrait of America, New York, 1989, p. 9)