Norman Rockwell | Cupid’s Visit
Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978)
The Golden Age of Illustration is synonymous with names such as Howard Pyle, N. C. Wyeth, James Montgomery Flagg, and J. C. Leyendecker. These artists were the rockstars for generations of Americans, singlehandedly shaping the visual culture of a nation one book, magazine cover, poster, and Cream of Wheat ad at a time. While each of these artists have created the most recognizable images in the United States vernacular: Uncle Sam, Long John Silver, Robin Hood, and countless others, none of their names carry the weight and reverence as that of Norman Rockwell.
The name Rockwell still to this day conjures an idyllic scene of the typical American family gathered round a table, the matriarch and patriarch presenting a perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Rockwell’s iconic Freedom from Want still stands as a cultural symbol of family values and the ideal lifestyle ingrained in American psyche for generations.
Norman Percevel Rockwell was born on February 3, 1894, in New York City, a time and place hovering on the edge of the 20th century and all its advancements, both wonderful and terrible. Not much is known about Rockwell’s childhood, except that early on he discovered his passion for creating artwork on his own terms. At age 14, he began his studies at the Chase Art School before attending the National Academy of Design, ultimately completing his formal education at the Art Students’ League in New York.
In 1916, Rockwell took the world by storm with his very first cover illustration for the Saturday Evening Post. Over 47 years, the bond between the artist and the publication brought forth over 320 beloved issues of the magazine, which the public received with fervor and adoration. His scenes of everyday life reminded readers of their own families and experiences, from a child’s first shot at the doctor’s office to newlyweds signing their marriage license. During the Great Depression, Rockwell’s cover illustrations graced humble homes, offering hope, joy, and humor to the poor and hungry. In the 1940’s, they hung in military barracks and battleships, reminding American soldiers of their distant homes and families.
Cupid’s Visit perfectly encapsulates everything that makes Rockwell’s work enchanting. Painted for the April 5, 1924, Saturday Evening Post cover, this depiction of a doe-eyed young boy captures the innocence of a first love as cupid whispers inspiration in his ear and a daisy grows at his feet, as if ready for a game of “loves me, loves me not.” The lad sits on a rock dressed in his Sunday best; his hands clasped fingers intertwined perhaps an inclination for another’s hand in his. Gazing upwards, his cheeks lightly blushed with a dreamy smile; he earnestly lends his ear towards the cupid. With an almost mischievous, wide-eyed look directed at the viewer, the winged messenger shares its tidings. The tenderness, the details; they speak to Rockwell’s demonstration of both technical precision and genuine understanding of the human condition. Cupid’s Visit evokes a universal feeling of the world letting out a sigh as spring comes again, the promise of love and peaceful days ahead.