Heritage Auctions’ American Art Auction to offer 10 works by Norman Rockwell

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Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978), Ben Franklin's Sesquicentennial, The Saturday Evening Post cover, May 29, 1926. Oil on canvas, 36 x 27 inches. Estimate: $800,000 - $1,200,000.

A painting by one of the most popular American artists of all time, and formerly owned by a famous Hollywood actress is expected to be the top lot at Heritage Auctions‘ American Art Auction May 4 in Dallas, Texas.

Once in the private collection of late actress Debbie Reynolds, Norman Rockwell Ben Franklin’s Sesquicentennial, The Saturday Evening Post cover, May 29, 1926 (est. $800,000-1,200,000) was commissioned in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and is Rockwell’s only cover illustration featuring a Founding Father.

“Norman Rockwell is one of the most beloved American artists who ever lived,” said Aviva Lehmann, Director of American Art. “Collectors of American art are drawn in great number to his works, as they immediately increase the strength and impact of any collection. The offerings in this auction span decades and many aspects of Rockwell’s career, allowing collectors at all levels to get involved.” 

Another Rockwell expected to spark significant interest is Norman Rockwell The Census Taker, The Saturday Evening Post cover study, 1940 (est. $250,000-350,000). While amusing, The Census Taker also documented a serious and important event in American History, the 1940 U.S. Census, which occurred April 1, only weeks before the April 27 debut of this Post cover.

Heritage Auctions' American Art Auction to offer 10 works by Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell, The Census Taker, The Saturday Evening Post cover study, 1940. Est. $250,000-350,000.

Norman Rockwell Stealing Socks, Interwoven Stocking advertisement, 1928 (est. $200,000-300,000) serves as a primary example of Rockwell’s skillful ability to present an enduring and heartwarming image that continues to resonate with the public even decades after its creation. Stealing Socks served as an advertisement for Interwoven Stocking that first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on Feb. 11, 1928.

Rockwell’s Before the Shot, The Saturday Evening Post cover study, 1958 (est. $150,000-250,000) is a preparatory study for an illustration that graced the March 15, 1958 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. The scene takes place in the interior of Stockbridge (Massachusetts) physician Dr. Donald Campbell’s office. Dr. Campbell was the model for the doctor, but while the little boy (Terry Locke) posed, Rockwell’s favored model Louis Lamone served as the doctor’s stand-in. One of the artist’s most iconic and most popular images, the present study was exhibited alongside the final painting at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

Rockwell rarely expressed his own political opinions, but Norman Rockwell The Day I Painted Ike (All through that grind of turning on different moods, he never lost patience. At the end-by golly, it was time to go fishing.), The Saturday Evening Post interior illustration, 1952 (est. $120,000-180,000) depicts the 34th president of the United States, of whom Rockwell was an unabashed fan; he even referred to himself as an “Eisenhower worshipper.” So intense was Rockwell’s admiration for Eisenhower that Ben Hibbs, then editor of the Saturday Evening Post, wrote to Rockwell saying, “If Ike is elected, as I think he will be, no small share of the credit should go to Norman Rockwell.” 

Golden Age Illustration is extremely well represented in the auction, including six works by Joseph Christian Leyendecker. Living Mannequin, The Saturday Evening Post cover, March 5, 1932 (est. $120,000-180,000), comes from the Estate of Harry Glass, of Long Island, New York. The painting originally sold at the 1943 U.S. War Bond at the United States Treasury-Saturday Evening Post War Bond Show, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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