Saturday Evening Post Covers
Norman Rockwell reached legendary status without competition to challenge his title, ‘the most popular artist in history.’ Rockwell’s assured stature had been elated to that of an ‘American Icon,’ whose name was now an adjective, “as American as apple pie, baseball and Norman Rockwell.” Rockwell took everything he gleaned to the next level, through his own special emphasis on context coupled with the addition of humor. It was his sense of irony, human qualities and frailty, the use of double entendre and facial expression, that shot Rockwell’s work into the stratosphere.
It may have been more matter of fact than surreptition, but less than half a dozen years after moving to New Rochelle in 1916, The Saturday Evening Post, J.C. Leyendecker’s single most important client, commissioned Norman Rockwell to paint his first Post cover. For some time thereafter, they both produced covers. In the end, Rockwell supplanted his idol as the best-known cover artist for The Saturday Evening Post, America’s most popular magazine.
Interestingly, Rockwell painted 321 separate Saturday Evening Post covers; one less than his idolized mentor, Leyendecker. Clearly, it was Rockwell’s deferential gesture of ultimate respect to the man whom he considered his Master. In 1936, he addressed his cover work in This Week magazine, “some have been good, some bad, and some just indifferent…often the ones I have liked best have been liked the least by the readers…one I like least has found favor. This is because the artist is often interested in the problems of composition, tone and color, while the public is primarily interested in the story told. Which is as it should be.”
Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post Covers showcase his 321 covers for the Post, all which captured the emotions of the times, not only that which was, but also what people would have liked life to be.