Rockwell Files: There’s One in Every Crowd

Though Norman Rockwell lived in a town known for its great slopes, he wasn’t a skier.

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Norman Rockwell would probably admit his January 24, 1948, cover Trip on a Ski Train was something of a self-portrait. He would identify with the quiet, reserved passenger with the Homburg, bow tie, and gray gloves. He certainly wasn’t the outdoorsy type, a fact he was constantly reminded of by his country home of Arlington, Vermont. The town was, and still is, a region famous for trout fishing and skiing.

Whenever Rockwell would take the train from New York to Arlington, he would share the car with rambunctious athletic types eager to hit the slopes. “I sit there,” he said, “surrounded by all these robust people and I feel more and more anemic.”

He tried skiing once but didn’t enjoy it. It just seemed like a risky form of skidding.

As he began the cover, he realized he didn’t have any ski clothes for his models, so he purchased the kind of woolen sweaters and shirts worn by the boisterous crowd on the train. After painting them, he tried wearing the clothes in the studio, but was reminded why he didn’t have ski clothes: Wool made him itch.

The great indoorsman: Though Norman Rockwell lived in a town known for its great slopes, he wasn’t a skier.


This article is featured in the November/December 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. This cover requires some studying, which I’d done in the magazine recently. Seeing it ‘lit-up’ here shows the man in the middle being a good sport amidst a group of people clearly ‘a little rough around the edges’ to put it nicely. They look like they’ve boarded this train after already having had at least a few drinks, and lookin’ forward to more in that ski lodge once there; likely before hitting the slopes.


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