Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Norman Rockwell

Go To
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 closed in 1971.

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.


Norman Rockwell works with their own pages:

Tropes associated with Rockwell and his paintings:

  • 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.)
  • "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.)
  • Advertisement:
  • Children Are Innocent: The children in Rockwell's art tend to be at worst mischievous, but 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 his 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.
  • Gossip Evolution: "The Gossips" features a conversational game of telephone that, when it loops back to the original gossip spreader, leaves her surprised, implying it's changed a lot.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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's happy she got the black eye.