Norman Rockwell in the Collections of The Henry Ford
14 artifacts in this set
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) captured the camaraderie of Army life in an image created for the cover of the January 1918 issue of Life magazine. It proved appropriate for this song sheet as well. Sixteen of the 28 Life covers Rockwell created from 1917 to 1924 depicted scenes of military life and soldiers' eventual return to civilian life.
One of Norman Rockwell's earliest and most successful advertising campaigns was for the Edison Mazda lighting division of General Electric. Rockwell created no fewer than twenty-four images depicting the power of light during the seven-year campaign.
Advertising Poster for Edison Mazda Lamps, "The Mazda Lamp of Today, the Sun's Only Rival," circa 1925
The illustrations that Norman Rockwell created for the Edison Mazda lighting campaign appeared as advertisements in magazines including The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal. They were also reproduced on point-of-purchase materials and posters like this one.
In 1916, Norman Rockwell illustrated his first of 323 covers for The Saturday Evening Post. Contributed over 47 years, Rockwell’s popular covers often depicted everyday scenes he described as "the commonplaces of America...the richest subjects in art." Rockwell delighted readers with this 1943 cover, the first of three whimsical April Fools illustrations he filled with odd details.
Norman Rockwell's popular wartime illustrations helped boost bond sales during World War II. A favorite character, the fictional Private Willie Gillis, appeared on 11 covers of The Saturday Evening Post between 1941 and 1946. Readers identified with Gillis's boy-next-door image, which Rockwell played up in this cover image depicting generations of the Gillis family's military service.
In 1913, Norman Rockwell began illustrating covers for Boys' Life Magazine, a periodical geared to young readers. Eleven years later, Rockwell began a 52-year relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, creating works for the organization's yearly calendars. Many of these illustrations were later repurposed. The image on the cover of this 1944 Handbook for Boys first appeared in the 1939 calendar.
Some of Rockwell's best-known illustrations depict American holiday traditions. Hallmark commissioned Norman Rockwell to produce a series of Christmas cards from 1946 to 1957. His sentimental imagery depicted scenes of an idealized holiday. Here, Rockwell depicts a young choirboy in mid-song. The wide-mouthed and enthusiastic soloist is surrounded by cherubs fancifully arranged and accompanying him with musical instruments.
Norman Rockwell created eight paintings for a 1953 calendar commemorating Ford Motor Company's 50th anniversary. Four of the paintings highlighted Henry Ford's past and his impact on the larger world, while the others focused on Ford Motor Company's present and future. In this painting, the young Henry Ford shows a skeptical village blacksmith his concept for an automobile.
Advertising Poster for Crest Toothpaste with Norman Rockwell Illustration, "Look Mom-No Cavities!," 1957
One of Rockwell's most iconic advertising campaigns was Crest's "Look Mom-no cavities!" series in the late 1950s. His illustrations featured wholesome kids holding notes to mothers touting their good dental health. These were published in Ladies' Home Journal, Reader's Digest, McCall's and other popular magazines. This poster was likely made for a drug or specialty store display.
Norman Rockwell created portraits of the major party candidates for the U.S. presidency from 1952 through 1972. His images quickly became iconic, and the Republican Party commissioned him to illustrate the cover of the official program for the 1957 inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon.
Brown and Bigelow, a St. Paul, Minnesota, printing company, licensed and reproduced Norman Rockwell illustrations on calendars and other promotional products, such as this corporate Christmas card made for a Detroit-area business. The card unfolds to reveal several seasonal scenes that were also featured in the Brown and Bigelow calendar for 1956.
As part of its 75th anniversary in 1978, Ford Motor Company commissioned a set of four posters representing the life of Henry Ford and the impact of the automobile. The scenes were originally created by Norman Rockwell for Ford's 50th anniversary in 1953. In this image, Rockwell captured pride of ownership in--and public curiosity about--the revolutionary Ford Model T.
Norman Rockwell died in 1978, but his illustrations lived on. Many of his works, like those included in this 1980 calendar, expressed a positive vision of American daily life and traditions that still resonates with Rockwell's fans.
Hallmark produced Christmas ornaments featuring Norman Rockwell's illustrations well into the 1990s. This example features an image of Santa Claus first published in 1951 as a greeting card illustration--an undeniable testament to the longevity and popularity of Rockwell's work. Whatever the subject, his images continue to captivate new generations of admirers.