Classic Covers: Rural Life

Join us for an engaging peek at country life in the '40s and '50s, including Rockwell’s beloved Farmer and the Bird.


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Farming is not just about hard work. The acclaimed artists of The Saturday Evening Post and sister publication Country Gentleman draw the tender, happy moments of life on the farm.

Father and Time

Country Gentleman cover from March 1, 1946

Father and Time
W.C. Griffith
Country Gentleman
March 1, 1946


No real farmer sees a clock at this advanced hour. Editors of Country Gentleman, from the same publisher as the Post, said of this 1946 painting, “Griffith may have been thinking of his own design for living when he painted this nine-o’clock farmer.” Echoed the artist: “I am originally from Nashville, Tennessee, and was brought up under the quaint old Southern theory that nothing is quite as important as a man’s politics, hot buttermilk biscuits, and plenty of sleep.”

This cover is one of seven Griffith did for Country Gentleman and the weather-hardened farmer with a soft spot for animals is reminiscent of Rockwell’s beloved Farmer and the Bird (below).

Farmer and the Bird

Saturday Evening Post Cover from August 18, 1923

Farmer and the Bird
Norman Rockwell
August 18, 1923


Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was a New York City slicker who loved depicting the ideal rural life. Notable among his country scenes were the 15 covers of Cousin Reginald, a city boy visiting his country cousins, that the artist did for our sister publication, Country Gentleman.

The contrast between the ruggedness of the farmer and his gentleness with the fledgling make this 1923 cover an endearing work. “If you are interested in the characters that you draw,” Rockwell said, “and understand them and love them, why, the person who sees your picture is bound to feel the same way.”

Basket of Kittens in the Barn

Cover of Country Gentleman from

Basket of Kittens in the Barn
Reginald Bolles
Country Gentleman
April 12, 1924


This 1924 cover of a farmer’s predicament was typical of the lighthearted themes depicted by artist Reginald Bolles (1877-1967). This was one of four Country Gentleman covers by the Cape Cod native who also did one Saturday Evening Post cover. In addition to book illustrations, Bolles also illustrated covers for Modern Priscilla (1887-1930), a women’s publication.

Snowy Farm Scene

Cover for Country Gentleman December 1953

Snowy Farm Scene
Charlotte Joan Sternberg
Country Gentleman
December 1943


Far-flung relatives begin gathering for the holidays in this cheerful 1953 cover by Charlotte Joan Sternberg (1920-2003). Charming scenes of the New England countryside were a common theme for this Connecticut-born artist, but this farm was really close to home.

Her neighbor, dairyman Clayton Robert Hall, whose family had farmed the 140 acres near Meriden since the early 1800s, guided the artist through the farm, which she began to paint the previous summer when the surrounding landscape was still green. The photo below shows the artist and farmer, along with a couple of disinterested cows, consulting on the illustration destined to become a magazine cover.

Photo of Country Gentleman Artist Joan Sternberg

Miss Sternberg and Mr. Hall photo
Country Gentleman
December 1953


Best known for her Americana landscapes, many of which can be viewed at The Art of Charlotte Joan Sternberg website; she was a successful commercial artist and painted portraits, including one of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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