Follow TV Tropes

Following

Creator / Norman Rockwell

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/norman-rockwell-triple-self-portrait-posters_7833.jpg
Triple Self Portrait, 1960

"Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible."

Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was an American painter and illustrator.

Rockwell began his artistic career with Boys' Life, the magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, and he would continue to illustrate for them well into his eighties. He also did cover art for a number of other magazines (most notably for The Saturday Evening Post from 1916 to 1963, after which he provided illustrations for Look until that magazine's closure in 1971) and did numerous print advertisements.

Rockwell was a prolific artist, producing thousands of works in his lifetime. His artwork, which typically involved gently humorous or sentimental depictions of childhood or idyllic American life, has frequently been homaged and/or parodied in popular culture, to the point of Stock Parody.


Rockwell's artworks with their own pages:

Tropes associated with Rockwell and his paintings:

  • The All-American Boy: One of his favorite subjects was a male (usually white and often blond) in the bloom of youth, ranging anywhere from an older preteen to a just-grown man.
  • Artistic Title: For the 1966 remake of Stagecoach, Rockwell painted in-character portraits of all the primary cast, which were used in the film's closing credits sequence as well as its poster art. (Rockwell also had a brief cameo appearance in the film itself as a poker player.)
  • Aside Glance: Several of his pieces have a character looking 'out of frame' at the viewer. Some examples are in Freedom from Want, The Marriage License, and Breakfast Table.
  • "Back to Camera" Pose: The Connoisseur depicts an art expert examining a Jackson Pollock-style painting from the back. Rockwell intended it as a commentary on how his realistic works clashed with those of abstract expressionists such as Pollock, and so the titular connoisseur's reaction to the painting is left ambiguous by his pose. (Rockwell was reportedly an admirer of Pollock, FWIW.)
  • Betty and Veronica: The two hometown girls Willie mails his photo to in Double Trouble for Willie Gillis.
  • Children Are Innocent: The children in Rockwell's art are mischievous at worst, never malicious.
  • Creator Cameo: Rockwell worked himself into several of his paintings, usually with an element of mild Self-Deprecation.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Children, animals, expressive postures and elaborate costuming.
  • Culture Equals Costume: The Golden Rule shows people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds shown in their respective traditional dress.
  • Eagleland: Type I. The bulk of his early work portrayed small-town American life as pleasant and idyllic. His later works would come to question the American Dream, especially when it came to matters of social justice, but even those works reflected the belief that the nation in general was trying to do the right thing, or eventually would.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: The Tattoo, where a tough looking guy is having the name of his next girlfriend being written on his arm, atop a long list of crossed out names of former girlfriends.
  • Everybody Smokes: Cigarettes, cigars, and pipes feature in a number of his paintings. Rockwell himself favored a Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe, as seen in Triple Self Portrait above.
  • Everytown, America: A classic setting, inspired in part by the Rockwell family's own small town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Rockwell painted the kind of idealized "Main Street" small town with friendly families, playing children, and picturesque outdoors.
  • Fiery Redhead: The auburn-haired heroine of The Shiner is implied to be one. She's a schoolgirl with a black eye waiting outside an authority's office, implying she got into a fight, but she's also grinning very widely (implying she won).
  • The '50s: The general setting of his pieces, usually in an idealized small-town America where no one comes to any actual harm. When he started demanding greater freedom, he started making grittier, more realistic depictions of American life.
  • Girl Next Door: As part of his generally-innocent Eagleland outlook, the young women in the pictures will be this, possibly on the arm of The All-American Boy.
  • The Golden Rule: The subject of a famous painting that shows people of all races standing together in harmony, overlaid with the text of the eponymous rule in gold letters.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: Stolen Clothes has a mild variant, with a dog making off with a boy's pants and leaving him in his swim trunks.
  • Gossipy Hens: The subject of The Gossips, where a bit of juicy conversation goes through a whole chain of persons and apparently reaches the person it was about, who then angrily confronts the original sender.
  • Gossip Evolution: The Gossips again. When it loops back to the original gossip spreader, she gapes in surprise, leaving the viewer to decide if she's shocked at how much it's changed or shocked at how much it hasn't.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Discovery is about a young boy rummaging through his parents' drawers and discovering the Awful Truth that Santa Claus is only a costume his father puts on every year at Christmas. The painting depicts the moment where the poor kid just stands there, staring wide-eyed at the camera, as the revelation fully sinks in.
  • High-School Sweethearts: The All-American Boy and the Girl Next Door are frequently depicted as if dating, engaged, or even getting married while still teenagers.
  • Internal Deconstruction: After he quit The Saturday Evening Post in 1963 over its attempts to get him to avoid civil rights issues and went to work for Look the following year, his illustrations increasingly came to resemble socially conscious subversions of the down-home Americana that had become his stock in trade, to the point that somebody today looking at The Problem We All Live With or Murder in Mississippi might think they were created as a Darker and Edgier satire of Rockwell for one of the Fallout games.
  • Malt Shop: The Soda Jerk depicts this stock midcentury American setting, with girls leaning over their milkshakes on the diner counter to moon at the server.
  • Manly Facial Hair: James K. Van Brunt served as a model for many of Rockwell's early Saturday Evening Post covers in the 1920s, sporting a spectacular mustache. After several paintings in which Van Brunt is immediately recognizable, Post editors eventually complained that the distinctive 'stache was becoming too overused, and Rockwell paid Van Brunt $10 to shave it. (As for the badass credentials, Van Brunt was a retired U.S. Army lieutenant and veteran of both the Civil War and Spanish American War.)
  • Marilyn Maneuver: The Cave of Winds predates the Trope Namer, but still has a young girl pushing her skirts down after being caught over a blowing vent.
  • Monochrome Casting: Enforced Trope. Rockwell's covers for The Saturday Evening Post featured mostly white people, and the magazine's editors actually requested that he only depict people of color in subservient roles (some of them can be seen as waiters, bellhops, and shoe shiners). Rockwell, who recounted that he once had to paint a black man out of a group picture, chafed a bit at this rule, and it eventually led him to quit the Post and draw for Look instead. As the Civil Rights Movement picked up steam in The '60s, he began to paint black people more prominently. Several later paintings address the civil rights struggle directly, and The Golden Rule notably depicts people of various races and religions together.
  • Mood Whiplash: Rockwell's cozy, small-town life paintings are vividly different from Let's Give Him Enough and On Time. Or Southern Justice. Or The Problem We All Live With. They almost seem to be painted by two different people.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Two of his paintings, Off-Duty Clown and Clown, are dedicated to showing that clowns are ordinary people, just like us.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: Garfield Visits Rockwell, originally done for a Garfield calendar and now being merchandised.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Rockwell's paintings are often framed as if the audience is a bystander in the scene who happens to be looking on. In The Runaway, the viewpoint is from some other patron of the soda shop, while in The Problem We All Live With, the viewer is a member of the anti-segregationist mob.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: Land of Enchantment features an entire fantasy in the background of two reading children.
  • Recurring Characters: Willie Gillis on The Saturday Evening Post covers during World War II; Cousin Reginald on The Country Gentlemen covers.
  • Rogue Juror: Jury Room depicts a young female juror calmly sitting while her male peers argue heatedly with her. The painting was meant to be a social critique on how women weren't allowed to participate in judicial matters at the time, and whether women could assess guilt or innocence based on evidence rather than emotion.
  • Santa Claus: Another frequent subject, as you'd expect from someone who did magazine covers. Rockwell apparently had fun showing the jolly old elf in something other than full holiday splendor — preparing for Christmas, making toys, planning out his route, or collapsed and dozing once the work was over.
  • Shout-Out: In his painting Boy in Dining Car, a Felix the Cat comic book can be seen in the boy's pocket.
  • Slice of Life: Known for depicting small moments in American life. Best represented by Shuffleton's Barbershop.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: His work has been criticized as too idealistic, but in response, he said, "I paint life as I would like it to be." Even his civil rights paintings were optimistic that America was doing the right thing desegregating schools and neighborhoods.
  • Sweetheart Sipping: This Orange Crush advertisement shows a lovestruck couple sipping from a glass of orange-flavored soda, while a bespectacled old man behind them looks on in utter bewilderment.
    • The Post cover A Day in the Life of a Boy shows the little boy and a girl his age drinking separate malts... which in the next panel has turned to several empty glasses next to them and a single cup they are sharing.
  • Take That, Critics!: As a jab against art critics who compared Rockwell's paintings unfavorably to the more trendy Abstract Modernism, The Connoisseur shows a man surveying a splattered canvas in the style of Jackson Pollock. Rockwell took the trolling even further by entering the Pollock-style portion of the painting in an art exhibition in New York, signing it with an Italian Pen Name. It won first prize.
  • Worth It: Pretty clearly the attitude of the girl sitting outside the principal's office in The Shiner: she's grinning, implying she has no regrets about whatever she did to get that black eye.


Top