Norman Rockwell drawings The Runaway and A Man’s Wife

 

Christie’s Sale of American Art in New York on September 25 is lead by two superb Norman Rockwell drawings The Runaway and A Man’s Wife. The sale also features over 160 lots by eminent American artists, including Greg Wyatt, Mary Cassatt, and Mario Korbel, among others. Comprised of Impressionism, Modernism, Westerns, Illustrations, and bronzes, and with estimates ranging from $3,000 to $120,000, the sale caters to collectors at all levels and of all interests.

 

Norman Rockwell Study for ‘The Runaway’ oil on paper laid down on board Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000

 

Norman Rockwell’s Study for ‘The Runaway’ leads the sale (estimate: $80,000 – $120,000). Arguably the artist’s most iconic image, the completed work was used as a Saturday Evening Post cover for the September 20, 1958 issue. The scene features a young boy who has packed up all of his belongings into a neatly folded knapsack and run away from home. Before setting out on his adventure, he stops at a local diner only to find himself caught up in a conversation with a friendly policeman, who is earnestly asking him to reconsider his departure.

 

norman rockwell a mans wife

As is the case with most of Rockwell’s artwork, he found models among the locals in his town. Richard Clemens, a 29-year-old trooper and neighbor of the artist in Stockbridge was asked to don his uniform and meet at a local restaurant. There he was introduced to an 8-year-old boy, Eddie Locke, who had been recruited from a nearby elementary school. Originally, the Saturday Evening Post acquired the study directly from the artist, and upon the retirement of the present owner’s mother from her longstanding job at the Post, the work was given to her. It has remained with the family for many years and has since been given to the current owner by his mother.

 

Also featured in the sale is Rockwell’s Study for ‘A Man’s Wife,’ an illustration completed to accompany a story written by Howard Fast in the February 1939 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal (estimate: $30,000 – $50,000). The story fictionally chronicled the lives of Martha and George Washington in the camp at Valley Forge. Rockwell was gifted in that he was able to choose the correct moment in the story for the illustration, creating enough of an interest in the viewer for them to read the story.

 

The scene that Rockwell chose to illustrate is the moment when Martha Washington enters the kitchen to find that the supper she had planned to serve to Colonel Hamilton has been burned and is now inedible. Knowing that food is scarce, the kitchenmaid is distraught by her mistake and is found weeping on a bench. When Martha asks why the meal is ruined, a sentry who had been stationed outside the house, rushes in and jumps to the young girl’s defense, appealing to the romantic sensitivities of the female readers. The study was given by the artist directly to his friend and barber, Steven M. Kovac, whose name appears in the dedication at lower right. The picture has remained in the family ever since.

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