Norman Rockwell was a 20th century illustrator and painter. He did magazine covers and paintings of Americana. He was considered overly sentimental. His work is still often discounted by serious artists and critics. His paintings provide a glimpse into a time past by, and if it is a little too perfect, a little better than it was, well, sometimes memories are fond.
He painted for the Boy Scouts of America for 50 years. Calendars and posters. Loving images of the best that Scouting was. Here’s an assortment to view or download. They capture in an image the core of what I have been writing about.
Here’s the older Scouts, with the canvas knapsacks, leading the way up the trail. If the younger Scouts, red faced and struggling, aren’t yet in the picture, they can be imagined.
He painted the best of Scouting, the dreams of all that was possible. And Scouting remembers him. His posters and calendars are collectors items now. My favorite Scoutmaster’s Handbook has this image on the cover.
A captured moment, at the end of a day in camp. The Scoutmaster in a moment of reflection, his Troop asleep, the fire low. It is not always necessary to be factual. The ability of a painting to capture the essence of a thing is what makes it art.
Rockwell is terrific. It’s become too tedious to pretend he isn’t.
–Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker art critic. 1999