Norman Rockwell Paintings with Radio Themes
mother loved Norman Rockwell paintings for their ability to get to the
heart of Americana. She was an avid collector of books on Rockwell and
decorated plates for display - as avid as one can be on my newspaper
classified ad manager
father's feeble salary, anyway.
I, too, have a great appreciation
for Rockwell's great talent to choose his subject matter and models
and to, when fitting, include a nearly photographic level of detail
within. The Saturday Evening Post magazine featured many of
his works spanning from 1916 until 1971 - from the middle of World War I
and on through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Summer, spring,
fall, and winter; Christmas, Easter, Veteran's Day, President's Day,
Mother's Day, New Year's, and other annual events; experiences of love,
happiness, joy, surprise, sadness, and a host of other emotions were
expressed in the bodies and visages of American families and persons,
from the very young to the very old; technology in its natural evolution
necessarily found it way into the pictures' backgrounds, often in a
subtle manner becoming the primary theme. Rockwell captured the totality
of current events during his lifetime in a famously non-offensive, personal
manner. His collective works represent an America that, in the eyes
of her enemies, was in need of fundamental change.
of my parents have been gone for many decades and I possessed almost
nothing of their personal items until recently when my sister sent me
the three books that were my mother's shown to the left that contain
all the cover art produced by Norman Rockwell for The Saturday Evening
Post. While looking through them I ran across some familiar paintings
that contain radio and television related themes - surprisingly few
given the many hundreds of paintings done by Rockwell. The first appeared
in 1922 as a crystal radio set, and the next didn't appear until 22
years later in a WWII theme. Prior to that time, Rockwell produced an
enlistment poster for the U.S. Army showing a telegraphy specialist,
and in 1920 painted a cover piece for The Literary Digest depicting
a young Ham radio operator demonstrating his rig to his grandfather.
Rockwell always used real people and scenes for his subjects, so chances
are the equipment shown accurately reflects actual equipment, although
company brand names are rarely revealed. Maybe you recognize the radio
models in the painting? I do not.
Over the past couple years
I have scanned and posted a few articles and advertisements from technology
companies from editions of The Saturday Evening Post that I
bought on eBay, such as this two-page ad for
General Electric radios and televisions for the Christmas 1948 shopping
season (links to others are at the bottom of the page).
"Wonders of Radio"
- Norman Rockwell
May 20, 1922 The Saturday Evening Post
"The couple's listening preferences are seen in the newspaper
program indicating the time of opera the broadcast. The tortoise-shell
comb in the woman's hair suggests in her lifetime she has been
more than a listener. One can imagine her as a fiery Carmen
or a teasing Manon Lescaut. By 1922 most people had parlor sets
so this crystal radio with earphones is a look back. A model
remembers Rockwell himself listening to the World Series from
a crystal set while he painted."
- Dr. Donald R.
Stoltz and Marshall L. Stoltz
"Grandpa Listening in on the Wireless"
February 21, 1920
The Literary Digest
"U.S. Army Teaches a Trade"
1919 United States Army recruiting poster
"Norman Rockwell's image of a G.I. telegrapher was meant
to promote one of the benefits of military service: Army training
would prepare a soldier with skills needed to get a job upon
return to civilian life. This painting was one of several which
Rockwell completed in the style of his friend and fellow Saturday
Evening Post illustrator, J.C. Leyendecker. Well-known for advertising
images commissioned by Arrow Shirt Collars, and House of Kuppenheimer,
Leyendecker's deliberately thick, visible brushstrokes were
emulated by Rockwell in this work. The inclusion of a border
with related thematic insignias was also a motif which Leyendecker
Norman Rockwell Museum Collection
- Norman Rockwell
April 29, 1944 The Saturday Evening Post
"Despite the times, this cover shows a definite note of
optimism. As the war rages on, this father of three servicemen
stays closely tuned in to his radio. Monitoring the war's developments,
he carefully pencils in each advance and each retreat with the
deftness of a battlefield general. The square jaw and tightly
clenched cigar show the air of determination not only of this
armchair general but of Americans the world over."
Dr. Donald R. Stoltz and Marshall L. Stoltz
"New Television Set"
November 5, 1949 The Saturday Evening
"This particular house was in the Adams Street
neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is hard to believe that this
old-timer was once one of the newest and snazziest homes. It's
hard to believe, too, that the occupants of the home would think
that someday there would be a contraption on their rooftop enabling
people inside to see what was going on fifty miles away. They,
no matter how primitive the television, no matter how cloudy
the ghost of the picture it will still bring a great deal of
joy to those people sitting down and watching for the first
time their own T.V. set."
- Dr. Donald R. Stoltz and
Marshall L. Stoltz
These Rockwell paintings do not feature
radios, but they are amongst my favorites:
- Norman Rockwell
13, 1945 The Saturday Evening Post
you love cars and engines and tools and gaskets and thread dies,
then this painting will strike your fancy for sure. The attention
to detail is amazing.
"Imperfect Fit (Back to Civvies)"
December 15, 1945 The Saturday
"When Norman Rockwell began this cover,
he found out that Lieutenant Arthur F. Becktoft, Jr., had just
come home. Becktoft, a Flying Fortress pilot, who made an excellent
record in Europe and was shot down in a mission over Germany,
had lived to tell the story. Norman caught hime in this unforgettable
scene when, after being away for four years and wearing the
uniform of the United States Air Force, he found that he had
matured not only morally and mentally, but certainly in stature
- Dr. Donald R. Stoltz and Marshall L. Stoltz
Posted February 16, 2014