10 Best paintings of Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was an American artist most famous for his illustrations and paintings. He was a prolific artist who created more than 4000 original artworks in his entire lifespan. 

Some of his remarkable works include Rosie the Riveter, Willie Gillis, Breaking Home Ties and many more. He worked with The Saturday Evening Post for years creating illustrations and covers for them.

I have mentioned below ten of his most famous paintings to familiarize you with Rockwell’s great works. 

10. “Russian Schoolroom”- 1967

Norman Rockwell “Russian Schoolroom”- 1967 paintings
Date of publishingOctober 3, 1967
Technique Oil Painting
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions16 inches X 37 inches

In 1967, Rockwell created The Russian Classroom also known as ”Russian Schoolroom”. It is an oil painting on canvas depicting a scenario of a classroom filled with Russian schoolchildren with a bust of Vladimir Lenin kept in front of the class (as visible in the painting). 

When you look at the painting, you can very well appreciate the details and the picture-like impression the painting projects.

The students are seated and are attentively looking straight ahead at the teacher who is not in the frame (believed). Among the classroom children, there is one student who probably found something more intriguing outside and is painted rather distracted looking. 

The whole setup painted by Rockwell can be related to any ordinary classroom scenario. In the painting, the children are wearing red neckerchiefs depicted as the Young Communist.

You can also see the Russian slogan, “study and Learn” in Russian painted on the wall. When observed closely, you can also see flowers kept near the bust of Lenin.

9. “Rosie the Riveter”- 1943

Norman Rockwell “Rosie the Riveter”- 1943 painting
Date of publishingMay 29, 1943
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueAcrylic and oil painting on board
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions52 inches X 40 inches

During the harsh time of World War II, most of the men left their usual jobs to join the military. It gave a chance to the women to step up and take up the odd occupations which were considered to be a “man’s job”. 

The illustration by Norman Rockwell, Rosie the Riveter, showcased a rugged, tough lady with a rivet gun in her lap.

She is wearing a mechanic’s or worker’s dress and eating lunch. She has a paper copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf beneath her foot. 

Rockwell used Mary Doyle Keefe as his model but he painter her, rather substantial and more rugged.

The posture of Rosie in the painting was inspired by the pose of Prophet Isaiah painted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1509.

It soon became a cultural icon and represented women and strong beings. Soon Rosie the Riveter became a shining symbol of women empowerment and feminism in America.

8. “Breaking Home Ties”- 1954

“Breaking Home Ties”- 1954 painting by Norman Rockwell
Date of publishing September 25, 1954
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
Techniqueoil painting on canvas
Current locationPrivate collection
Dimensions44 inches X 44 inches

The 1954 painting, Breaking Home Ties has remarkable detailing keeping the Norman Rockwell’s reputation and work high.

It was cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1954. The original painting is an oil painting on canvas. 

The picture depicted a young boy and an older man, considered to be his father. They both are sitting on a truck along with their family dog by the young boy’s side.

The painting has outstanding detailing which tells a story. In the painting, the young boy’s new looking suitcase has a pennant of ‘State U’.

Although the man and the boy are not looking at each other their body posture suggests familial intimacy.

The picture very well depicted parting for a new beginning as well as the love shared by a father and son.

7. “Freedom of Speech”- 1943

Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech
Date of publishingJanuary 6, 1942
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on Canvas
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions45.75 inches X 35.5 inches

Freedom of Speech is the first illustration out of the four illustration paintings of Freedom series. Just like most of Rockwell’s work, this illustration is also an oil on canvas painting. 

The series was created by Rockwell depicting various scenarios and inspired by various elements of history. The Freedom of Speech illustration painting was inspired by the State of Union Address by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States.

On 6th January 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt raised the issues of Human rights and established that human rights should be protected universally. 

This inspired Rockwell in creating the Freedom series.  Rockwell created many versions of the Freedom of Speech illustration in an attempt to understand and see various perspectives. 

6. Freedom of Worship- 1943

Rockwell Freedom of Worship- 1943 oil canvas painting
Date of publishingFebruary 27, 1943
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on canvas
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions46 inches X 35.5 inches

In the Freedom illustration series, the second illustration is called Freedom to Worship or Freedom of Worship. It is an oil on canvas painting published on February 27, 1943, in The Saturday Evening Post. 

The painting showing eight people’s heads, the people are placed in a serene setup with an aura of religious ceremony. The people belong to various faiths depicted clearly by Rockwell in the painting. 

A Catholic younger woman is holding a beaded rosary in one hand, a Jewish man is also portrayed in the painting with his head covered and he is holding a religious book in his hand. There is another older woman who is considered to be a Protestant.  

In the bottom of the painting, the people represented provide a sense of practice of various religions. The representations include the Catholic young lady, Protestant older women, another man between the women, and the Jewish man have their hands joined in prayer.

5. Freedom from Want- 1943

Norman Rockwell oil canvas painting Freedom from Want- 1943
Date of publishingMarch 6, 1943
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on canvas
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions45.75 inches X 35.5 inches

The Thanksgiving picture or Freedom from Want is the fourth illustration out of the four Freedom series. It is an oil on canvas illustration painting. 

The painting depicts a dining room scenario where a group of people has gathered for Thanksgiving or Holiday meal. The faces of individuals and the whole scenario were inspired by the Thanksgiving Dinner Rockwell had with his family.  

It was published on 6th of March, 1943 even though it was created in November of 1942 and was inspired by the Thanksgiving meal. Since the time it was published, it has become a cult favorite and portrays the typical American Thanksgiving.

4. Freedom of Fear- 1943

Freedom of Fear- 1943 by Norman Rockwell
Date of publishingMarch 13, 1943
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on canvas
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions46 inches X 35.5 inches

Freedom of Fear is the last contributing painting of the illustration series Freedom. It was published in The Saturday Evening Post on 13th of March, 1943. 

The illustration, just like most of the Norman Rockwell’s paintings is an oil on canvas painting. The illustration was published along with an essay by Stephen Vincent Benet. The painting depicts an American family, in the painting frame Rockwell painted a middle-aged couple along with their two children. 

The mother is tucking the kids in bed and beside her, the husband is standing with newspaper. The illustration was made during World War II to motivate the resident workforce. It was a time when more than a million houses in London. 

Air bombing was a hovering danger and was referred to as the Blitz. In the picture, the concern on the parent’s face is evident while they are tucking their kids. On closer look, you can read the heading on the newspaper which reads “Bombings … Horror Hit”. 

According to Rockwell, he created the illustration with a vague idea to depict the parent’s feelings and concern that they are able to tuck their kids that night.

3. The Problem We All Live With- 1964

The Problem We All Live With- 1964
Date of publishingJanuary 14, 1964
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on canvas
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions36 inches X 58 inches

The painting was published by Look on 14th of January 1964. Norman Rockwell painted The Problem We All Live With keeping the Civil Rights Movement in mind. The painting depicted six-year-old Ruby Bridges, an African American girl going to an all-white school in New Orleans. 

Rockwell painted the illustration from the point of view of an observer hence you can not see the audience. Rockwell put the racist slur and ‘KKK’ (letters of white supremacist group) right in the middle of the painting on the wall. 

He also painted a thrown squashed tomato and fallen by the wall. The girl is accompanied by four suited men for her protection.

2. Home for Christmas- 1967

Home for Christmas- 1967
Date of publishingDecember 1967
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on canvas
Current locationNorman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US
Dimensions26.25 inches X 95.25 inches

Rockwell painted Stockbridge’s main street with exemplary details making it beautiful serene scenery.  Home for Christmas showcases the snowy street in the landscape of England and soon it became a Christmas symbol in New England. 

Rockwell used multiple reference photos for the painting, he used photos of the snowy mountains of Vermont, Berkshire Hills, and Switzerland. 

The snow-covered street was painted by taking reference from the snow-covered streets of Siberia. The buildings in the painting are based on the architecture design of the 19th century.

1. Saying Grace- 1951

Saying Grace 1951 painting by Normal Rockwell
Date of publishingNovember 24, 1951
Published byThe Saturday Evening Post
TechniqueOil painting on canvas
Current locationPrivate collection
Dimensions42 inches X 40 inches

Saying grace was the cover of The Saturday Evening Post’s edition for the date 24th of November 1951. Rockwell painted Saying Grace after getting inspiration from the story of a reader of the Post. 

According to the reader, she saw a Mennonite family in a restaurant praying or saying grace before eating their meal. Rockwell used the reference and painted a mother and son sitting and saying grace before their meal in a busy restaurant. 

They are sharing their table with two other young people, who are staring at them with astonishment. In the painting, a man coming inside the restaurant and another man with just a part of him in the painting’s left side are emphasized too. 

These two people are also starring the mother-son duo. Saying Grace was voted the Favorite Cover by the readers of The Saturday Evening Post’s reader.

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Cite this article as: Richard Marrison, "10 Best paintings of Norman Rockwell," in HistoryTen, October 18, 2020, https://historyten.com/arts/best-paintings-norman-rockwell/.
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