Norman Rockwell’s tremendously successful, prolific career as a painter and illustrator has rendered him a twentieth-century American icon. However, the very popularity and accessibility of his idealized, nostalgic depictions of middleclass life have caused him to be considered not a serious artist but a “mere illustrator”–a disparagement only reinforced by the hundreds of memorable covers he drew for The Sunday Evening Post.
Symptomatic of critics’ neglect is the fact that Rockwell has never before been the subject of a serious critical biography. Based on private family archives and interviews and publishes to coincide with a major two-year travelling retrospective of his work, this book reveals for the first time the driven workaholic who had three complicated marriages and was a distant father —so different from the loving, all-American-dad image widely held to this day. Critically acclaimed author Laura Claridge also breaks new ground with her reappraisal of Rockwell’s art, arguing that despite his popular sentimental style, his artistry was masterful, complex, and far more manipulative than people realize.
Laura Claridge is the author of several books, including Norman Rockwell: A Life and Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence. Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners received a National Endowment for the… More about Laura Claridge
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“[An] excellent and thorough new biography.” —Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times
“Judicious, eminently readable, and astute . . . Claridge makes it her mission to demystify Rockwell’s misunderstood image and real persona. . . . Nuanced . . . persuasive . . . chock-full of charming anecdotes . . . This book deserves a wide readership.” —The Boston Globe (a Boston Globe Best Book of 2001)
“Impeccably researched and engagingly written.” —The Washington Post
“Claridge has done an extraordinary job; she is an exhaustive researcher and a gifted art historian.” —Entertainment Weekly