I was so busy with Anime Boston preparations that I never got a chance to write about my visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum! It was the Thursday before Anime Boston, April 21st I believe, that the Illustration department took a field trip to the Rockwell Museum, and then drove up to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.
Norman Rockwell Museum
9 Route 183
Stockbridge, MA 01262
413-298-4100 x 221
“Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to education and art appreciation inspired by the legacy of Norman Rockwell. The museum preserves, studies and communicates with a worldwide audience the life, art and spirit of Norman Rockwell in the field of illustration.”
It was quite a drive up to the museum but we went on the most beautiful day! I took a zillion pictures of the scenery out of the bus window. I’ve never been to the Berkshires before and they were beautiful!! There were little streams everywhere and the water was the more gorgeous shade of turquoise. (which is not done justice by my photographs) There were bright green hills and lots of forests and super cool rock formations.
The museum itself was a white building surrounded by green fields. Rockwell’s studio was only a short walk away. The tour guide said that the studio had been given to the museum but not the land that it sat on, so the museum had to relocate the small house to the new museum site. They were in the middle of re-installing the pieces of the studio to look as it would have while it was being used in the height of Rockwell’s career. There was a reproduction of an unfinished “The Golden Rule” on a large easel in the middle of the room with a loaded palette table and rag bucket next to it. There were posters and paintings hung about the walls and a few objects that Rockwell had collected in his travels.
Inside the Museum, I got to see more of Rockwell’s painting that I had never known to exist. What I love so much about his work is that it all feels like a memory. All of his paintings remind me of my childhood and of good memories. Even his more serious paintings about the war. All of them feel like home the very first time you see them. He paints such expressive faces! The expressions on his models are so varied and comic and colorful, even though there was no color photography. Rockwell did work from photographs. The museum set up several rooms dedicated to showing Rockwell’s Illustrative process. It was very similar to the process that Illustrators use today and the methods that I am currently learning. Rockwell would use his neighbors and children as models (sometimes he would use professionals too) and he would photograph them many times in different positions. He then would combine the photographs into a composition that he was happy with, sometimes by cutting them up and making a collage, and then he would start his painting using the photos as reference. Even his underdrawings were beautiful and I would have never known if I had not visited the museum.
One painting that I had never seen before really stood out to me. It is titled “Marriage License,” and is an illustration of a young couple, signing their names on the documents to become legally married. The young man has his arm around his new wife, watching her put down her signature. The young woman is wearing a bright yellow dress which lights up the dark wooden room. The woman is a little too short for the high counter on which the documents are placed, and she is on her toes to make signing more comfortable. The desk is placed in front of a tall window, placed just off center. The part that was really sweet is the old man behind the desk issuing the two their marriage license. This man who modeled for Rockwell’s painting had recently lost his own wife and so the look on his face is so genuine in its slight sadness. Looking at his face you can almost see the fond memories that he is recalling.
Anyway I bought a print of this painting in the gift shop, I liked it so much.
The Clark Art Institute was nice. It was filled with a lot of old, big, classical oil paintings. But I found the most pleasure looking at the silverware. This was real silverware. Made of silver. And it was big and shiny and ornate and there were many pieces in a set. But I was tired by the time we got there and so nothing would hold my attention for very long.
I highly recommend that you attend the Norman Rockwell Museum, but don’t try to fit two museums which are an hour apart in one day like we did. As much as I like museums, one at a time is the best way to go.