After a two-year hiatus, The Saturday Evening Post resumed publishing in June of 1971. Its rebirth was a big deal, and the magazine celebrated by featuring an artist on its cover who was larger than life, especially to Post readers: Norman Rockwell.
Rockwell started painting covers for the magazine in 1916; 55 years later, a coterie of Post editors visited the 77-year-old artist in his charming Stockbridge, Massachusetts studio to photograph him for the upcoming issue.
The idea was to take photos of Rockwell sketching a seven-year-old boy whose look — red hair, freckles, missing tooth — would be right at home on any Rockwell cover. They even had the kid dress the part of a “Post boy” in knickers, with a Saturday Evening Post satchel thrown over his shoulder. Rockwell obliged, and the sketch appears on the cover and in the article.
The artist’s studio was a revelation, a lifetime’s worth of interests and inspirations; it was scattered with dolls from different countries, weapons from different eras, books about famous artists, and a multitude of pipes — Rockwell’s trademark. During the visit, Rockwell sketched the youngster and talked to the new editors about the good old days at the Post.
After a flurry of photo-taking, the editors departed, leaving Rockwell to his quietude, and went back to Philadelphia to write this story and assemble the first issue to be published in 22 months.
For 200 years, The Saturday Evening Post has continuously published its print magazine (minus those 22 months, of course). And while Norman Rockwell has passed away, his legacy as a narrative artist is unparalleled. The 1971 article was prescient in recognizing Rockwell’s continued greatness: “The artist’s slender hands created a world that will never fade while his canvases survive.”
Featured image: ©SEPS
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now