“Celebrate America—Past, Present, and Future.” That’s the tagline of our country’s oldest magazine. The Saturday Evening Post’s legendary archives date back to 1821, but the magazine is better known for its ever-popular cover art and inside illustrations. Artists range from the iconic Norman Rockwell to the lesser-known Western depictions of W.H.D. Koerner.
It’s only fitting, then, that when it comes to selecting art that both reflects our nation’s values and presidents’ personal tastes, the highly revered paintings from The Saturday Evening Post are an appropriate fit, with images that speak to the everyday American spirit.
From his governor’s office in Texas, former President George W. Bush brought to the Oval Office a favorite painting of his: a Western scene called A Charge to Keep by W.H.D Koerner. The illustration first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916 to depict a short story called “The Slipper Tongue.”
With A Charge to Keep back home in Texas, the Obamas, along with their appointed interior designer Michael Smith, gave the Oval Office a subtle makeover, replacing the cowboyesque décor (with the exception of artist Frederic Remington’s sculpture The Bronco Buster) with a more traditional touch, while embracing such classics as the Norman Rockwell painting, the iconic Working on the Statue of Liberty, which appeared on the cover of the Post in July 1946.
The original work of art was previously owned by famed film director Steven Spielberg—an avid Rockwell collector. In 1994 Spielberg donated the painting to the White House where it has proudly hung for Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, according to Jeremy Clowe, manager of media services for the Norman Rockwell Museum. “An additional series of Rockwell works—appropriately titled So You Want to See The President (The Saturday Evening Post story illustration, November 13, 1943)—are also on loan to the White House, and on view in the building’s West Wing,” says Clowe.
The history of the Post is deeply rooted in American culture and will not only continue to find a home in the heart of America, but in the hearts of Americans. Today’s Post readers turn to the magazine for a dose of artistic nostalgia, an update on current cultural trends, and a forecast for medical breakthroughs and emerging technology of days to come, as the Post continues to “Celebrate America—Past, Present, and Future.”