Artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell was born on today’s date, February 3rd, in 1894. He began his career as an illustrator young. In 1913, he became art director of and painted several covers for the Boy Scout magazine, Boy’s Life. In 1916, he painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, titled “Mother’s Day Off.” This cover began Rockwell’s long career with The Saturday Evening Post that would last until 1963. During that time, he would create 321 original covers published by the Post. In 1916, Rockwell married his first wife, Irene O’Connor. They divorced in 1930. Afterwards, he married his second wife Mary Bartow with whom he had three children.
In 1943 Rockwell painted one of his most famous works, “The Four Freedoms.” “The Four Freedoms” consist of four paintings, titled “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom to Worship,” “Freedom from Want,” and “Freedom from Fear.” They were inspired by a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and were published in The Saturday Evening Post along with accompanying essays. Later, the U.S. Treasury Department took the paintings on tour to promote war bonds. Unfortunately, 1943 was also the year that a fire destroyed Rockwell’s studio along with many original paintings.
After the death of his second wife, Rockwell married Molly Punderson in 1961. They would set up what would later become the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1977, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive. Norman Rockwell died November 8, 1978 at the age of 84.
-by Michael Endres