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Hidden Treasures from the Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell Museum

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thomas Nast Tearsheets

We recently received a donation of Thomas Nast tearsheets dating from 1862-1875. Thomas Nast was an important nineteenth century American cartoonist who produced some of the most influential political cartoons in American history. In 1859 he began working for Harper’s Weekly, where he would remain for most of his career.
During the Civil War, Nast worked as a war correspondent, traveling to the front lines and producing sketches of the battlefields. These were featured in Harper’s and helped inspire patriotic fervor in the North, to the degree that President Lincoln referred to him as, "our best recruiting sergeant.” By the end of the war, Nast became a nationally-known figure. He used this position to attack William “Boss” Tweed and his ring of corrupt Tammany Hall politicians. Nast was considered such an influential threat that Tweed attempted unsuccessfully to buy Nast off. Nast’s campaign proved successful and the Tweed ring was removed from power in the 1871 election.

Nast also proved to be an influential force in every presidential election from 1864 to 1880. He became known for his ruthless attacks on Democratic candidates in particular, as Harper’s typically supported Republicans. In addition to his political influence, Nast is credited with creating the popular images of figures such as Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, and the Democratic donkey that are still in use today. The donkey had been associated with the Democrats since 1837, but it was Nast who popularized it. He is also the origin of the elephant as a symbol of the Republican party.
"The Third-Term Panic," Harper's Weekly, Nov 7 1874

Some of the cartoons are a bit difficult to appreciate without having knowledge of the people and events they depict, but they are still enjoyable to look at and make a worthy addition to the museum's collection.

"The Modern Samson," Harper's Weekly, Oct 3 1868
 "Time Works Wonders," Harper's Weekly, Apr 9 1870


Monday, March 31, 2014

NRM Archives in the News

The archives were in the news recently. The New York Times ran an article on the Famous Artists' School collection, a large donation of materials from the art correspondence school recently aquired by the museum. This collection includes both archival materials, such as tearsheets, photos, and lessons books, as well as original artwork.

New York Times Article

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Birthday greetings continued...

We saw birthday cards yesterday from elementary school students in California and Florida.  Today, the cards are from students in the midwest.
From Mrs. Pulford's 5th grade class at George O. Barr School in Silvis, Illinois:


And here are a couple from Mrs. Jayroe's 3rd grade class from Utica, Michigan:




Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Norman Rockwell!

Norman Rockwell was born 120 years ago today.  In celebration of that, we've gone through the archives and found several wonderful birthday cards from some of his youngest fans.  We have quite a few to share, so we'll be posting them throughout the week.  Here's the first batch.

From Mrs. Frances Hafford's 5th grade class at Morgan Woods Elementary School in Tampa, Florida:

From Mrs. Marion Crowel's 3rd grade class at Garden Gate School in Cupertino, California:

Monday, January 27, 2014

From the mouths of babes...

A couple of weeks ago, we listed some of the comments from preschool visitors to Norman Rockwell's exhibition, Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective. Here are a few more observations from this astute group of art critics.

Freedom of Worship

"They don't want to be old anymore."
"It's a necklace. She took it off because it scratched." (referring to Rosary beads)

The Connoisseur

"It would be bad to eat."
"The man had fun painting it."

The Fireman

"It's only a picture of a picture."
"It's a fireman...he doesn't like it because it doesn't smell good."
"Those words [Rockwell signature] say 'No Smoking'."
"He can't put out that little fire."

It seems like they really enjoyed their visit.

Freedom of Worship
The Fireman
The Connoisseur

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kids say the darndest things...

You never know what you might find around here.  Our archives assistant, Jenna, recently came across a list of comments by a class of preschool children.  They had viewed the exhibition Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective in 1973 at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.  Here's what these kids had to say about a few of the paintings:
Portrait of Nixon

"That's President Lixon." (pronounced with an "L")
"We voted for President Lincoln."
"He's good because my mom and dad voted for him."

Freedom from Want

"It's Thanksgiving! But we didn't have turkey - we had cheese sandwiches and milk."
"They're drinking wine water." (white wine)

The Jester

"Those shoes are like Peter Pan."
"He's sad but his friend is happy.  Bat Man killed his friends."
"He has bells so he won't get lost."


The Jester
Portrait of Nixon
Freedom from Want
There you have it.  The four year old perspective.  More to come soon!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Old Books!

We recently received a donation of approximately 173 books from museum board member Bob Horvath. Adding these new books to our small library was a challenge due to space constraints (a new bookcase and extensive weeding of our book collection were required!), but they are a worthy addition to our collection.

The new bookshelf

The majority of the books date from the 1880s to the 1930s, making quite a few of them over 100 years old. Most of them are illustrated novels or books of poetry. A great number of them feature illustrations by distinguished American artist Howard Pyle, whose work was exhibited at the museum last summer. Pyle is well-known for his illustrated childrens' novels, particularly those featuring pirates. The books are a real treasure for bibliophiles, with many featuring beautiful covers such as this copy of The Island of Enchantment by Justus Miles Forman:

Another beautiful cover is this one, found on Pyle's novel The Garden Behind the Moon:

Written six years after the death of Pyle's young son Sellers, The Garden Behind the Moon is a childrens' novel dealing with the subjects of death and the afterlife.

Beginning in 1903 and concluding in 1910, Pyle published a four-part retelling of the Arthurian legends. These books featured numerous striking black and white illustrations. The donation contained multiple copies of these books, including special 1933 editions commemorating Pyle's eightieth birthday. Other notable artists contributed new frontispieces for the novels.

Illustration of Guinevere by Pyle, from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

The 1933 edition of The Story of King Arthur and His Knights features a frontispiece of Morgan le Fay's enchanted barge by W. J. Aylward.

Going through the books has been a very enjoyable experience- it's not every day that I get to handle old books like these.