Tipping the Scales by Leslie Thrasher
We’ve used this classic 1936 cover on one of our cookbooks, and people tend to think it’s a Rockwell. Yes, they look like Rockwell-type characters, but no, it isn’t a Rockwell. It was done by artist Leslie Thrasher, who did twenty-five Saturday Evening Post covers. Alas, I’ve had people insist that it was a Rockwell, even though the signature says otherwise. What’s an archivist to do?
“Sick Pooch” by Russel Sambrook
A surprising number of people think all Saturday Evening Post covers were by Rockwell. That’s kind of like thinking all classical music was composed by Beethoven. Although Norman was a prodigious worker and quite prolific, it would have been a physical impossibility to come up with the thousands of weekly covers that would have involved. A couple of things hint to me that this is not a Rockwell. The boy is too dapper for one. Rockwell liked weather-beaten clothing, especially hats (except when showing a “dressed-up” occasion). The wagon is clearly homemade, but maybe a little too neat and “unworn”. This was by Russell Sambrook, who only did 4 Post covers. The Rockwell version? See below.
Sick Puppy by Norman Rockwell
Here is Norman Rockwell’s version from 1923. Most artists wouldn’t be inspired by a piece of broken crockery, but a dog dish that was far from perfect was right up Rockwell’s alley. This may have inspired the later version above – note the big safety pin holding the blanket around the dog in both paintings and the expression on the dogs faces – let’s hope they weren’t as ill as they were painted.
In the Dentist’s Chair by Kurt Ard
Rockwell did great covers of boys, and this one at the dentist’s office…is not one of them. It has the attention to detail (love the socks), the humor and pathos of a Rockwell, but no, it was by Kurt Ard. A reader purchased this, thinking it was a Rockwell because it had been a Post cover. And it did look like Rockwell’s style. If it’s any consolation, having been a Saturday Evening Post cover often adds value to a piece of art, even if not a Rockwell.
Readying for First Date by George Hughes
There’s more than one reason this cover by artist George Hughes looks like a Rockwell. The models! That young man getting ready for his first date was Tommy Rockwell, son of the artist. And trying to figure out the tie was Mrs. Rockwell. This was even Tommy’s room in Arlington, Vermont. Artists and their families often posed for each other. Who knew better how hard it was to get good models?
Height Comparison by Douglas Crockwell
Artist Douglass Crockwell did several covers for the Post, including this one. Rockwell-type characters are comparing height from son to dad. As with Rockwell, there is a lot of attention to detail (the pattern in mom’s dress, for example) but it’s a Crockwell, not a Rockwell (sorry – I always wanted to say that). It was hard enough to compete with an artist of Rockwell’s stature, but with the last name Crockwell, it was doubly hard. Poor Douglass Crockwell took to signing his work simply “Douglass”.
Cousin Reginald Under the Mistletoe by Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell featured a city slicker named Reginald on several Country Gentleman covers (a sister publication to the Post for many years). Here’s an embarrassed Cousin Reginald under the mistletoe from 1917. Compare it to the one below.
Cutting In by Alan Foster
Again, showing the boy in glasses to indicate geekiness. Some of us who wear glasses beg to differ. This was done in 1923 by artist Alan Foster, who did thirty Post covers. As to clues on how to tell the Rockwell from the other artist? In all honesty, sometimes I just have to look at the signature.