The Massachusetts arm of the American Legion Post, an organization serving veterans, sold a Norman Rockwell painting at Heritage Auctions last week for $ 4.3 million. The painting, titled Thanksgiving House (1945), was sold in Dallas, Texas, and was auctioned to raise funds for an organization that said it was facing the financial fallout from the pandemic.
Like some of Rockwell’s most famous works, this painting was originally commissioned for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post magazine. Norman Rockwell’s art often depicts middle-class white Americans, and in the post-war years, it was considered an integral part of national identity formation.
In Home for Thanksgiving, a soldier returning from the war helps a woman who appears to be his mother to peel potatoes together. The painting was painted shortly before the end of World War II. Its storyline was suggested to Rockwell by the art director of the Saturday Evening Post, who expected those overseas to return to the United States soon.
According to Gardner News, the American Legion Post got the job in 1959 when a local priest donated it along with a $ 500 gift. However, most of the visitors did not know that it was a Rockwell painting, and some even got the impression that it was a reproduction and not an original.
It wasn’t until 1982 that a representative of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, confirmed that Rockwell’s work was bona fide, and set its estimate at $ 60,000. Despite the relatively unusual history of the work, the picture barely fit into the estimated amount of 4 to 7 million dollars.
Its price is also well below the highest price ever auctioned for a Rockwell painting. The Rockwell record was set in 2013 when his painting Talking Grace (1951) was auctioned at Sotheby’s for $ 43 million.
Norman Rockwell was born in New York on February 3, 1894, and was an illustrator and painter whose often humorous depictions of American life made him perhaps the most beloved artist in the United States during his lifetime. After graduating from art school, Rockwell immediately found work as an illustrator for the magazine “Boy Scouts of America”.
By 1916, Norman Rockwell had done his first illustration for the popular weekly The Saturday Evening Post, for which he created 321 covers over 47 years. One of his most iconic illustrations is of Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic in 1927. His work has also appeared in Literary Digest, Life, and Look magazines.
Rockwell’s paintings and magazine illustrations portrayed discouraging reality, recalling simpler and innocent times. In 1977, Norman Rockwell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford.
Norman Rockwell died in1978, in Massachusetts. There is the Norman Rockwell Museum, dedicated to Rockwell’s work and archives. Other museums with permanent collections of Rockwell’s work include the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.