The Rockwell Files: The Holdout

Step into the jury room of Rockwell’s The Holdout, in a haze of smoke and unbending wills.

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Rockwell might have gotten the idea for his February 14, 1959, cover from a movie released two years earlier.

In 12 Angry Men, Henry Fonda played a dissenting juror who eventually persuaded the other 11 men on a jury to vote with him. As in the movie, this deliberation has taken hours, indicated by the crumpled ballots on the floor and the cloud of smoke overhead.

What made this cover more than just a reprise of the movie is that Rockwell’s holdout is a strong-minded woman, holding fast to her principles, at a time when women jurors were still a rarity in some states, and not permitted in some others.

In Norman Rockwell's cover, a lone woman juror sits firmly in a smoke filled jury room as the 11 others, all men, try to convince her to change her vote.
“Jury” or “The Holdout” (©SEPS)

Featured image: Detail from The Holdout (©SEPS)

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  1. This cover very likely WAS inspired by the Henry Fonda film, but with Rockwell’s twist of the one female juror. Thanks for larger, upper portion ‘close up’ at the top. The details are Rockwell perfect, and the full view cover below shows how much time has passed just from looking at the floor; crumpled ballots, awful cigarette butts and all.

    It looks like there are 5 men smoking here which is (now) extremely outrageous, even taking the era into consideration. We don’t know how long from this point that a decision is finally reached, but hopefully was REALLY soon! I love how Rockwell so perfectly blends himself into this cover as one of the jurors.


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