philly file · August 18 2017

Have you met Norman?

Have you met Norman Rockwell? If not, I would love for you to pop into the Philadelphia History Museum while you still have a chance to say hello. He's a childhood friend of my family and I just know you're going to love him!

Norman's works were a constant presence in my life growing up. Calendars marked the days until summer vacation, picture books that were flipped through when we were supposed to be quiet while my mom taught piano lessons. This illustrator and painter's works bring me back to the simpler times. A time before app notifications, when the hashtag was a pound sign, and going to the movies didn't cost you an arm and a leg (just the arm).

"How will I be remembered? As a technician or artist? As a humorist or a visionary?"
—Norman Rockwell

XOXO: With love, Norman Rockwell offers a close up look at a selection of The Saturday Evening Post issues. From the brush strokes that make up a the cheek of a smiling couple to the details hidden in the background, Norman's idealism can be felt in each of the covers. The chivalrous way the young man holds his date's belongings as she shows off the corsage is adorable. I felt pretty clever when I noted that the flash art of the tattoo shop includes everlasting declarations of faith, friendship, and family. The humor, warmth, and love across all of his subjects just makes you feel good.

Nifty Norman Nuggets

  • Norman illustrated 322 covers of The Saturday Evening Post, a Philadelphia magazine published by the Curtis Publishing Company. The Philadelphia History Museum has a full collection of the issues.
  • When he felt a painting was not going well, he would add a dog!
  • Due to his desire to depict idealistic and sentimentalized portrayals of American life, you could say he was ahead of the inspirational social media trend.
  • The boy in "Piano Tuner" is the grandfather of 2 of my mom's piano students!

Take a break from the burning August sun and pop in to visit the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent to see Norman before he signs off. XOXO, me.

Philed by Kim Iburg

Philadelphia History Museum
15 South 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106 US

Recent Philly Files