Music Hath Charms by Norman Rockwell
November 4, 1939 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Music Hath Charms, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published November 4, 1939. This is another favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic enduring image of the world Rockwell painted.
An alternate title for this painting is Sheriff Guarding Jail Cell.
This painting was Rockwell's 190th overall out of 322 total paintings that were published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell's career with the Post spanned 47 years, from his first cover illustration, Boy With Baby Carriage in 1916 to his last, Portrait of John F. Kennedy, in 1963.
This was also the seventh cover for The Post in 1939. In 1939, there were eight Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
The original oil on canvas painting, 28 x 22 inches or 71 x 55 cm, is part of a private collection.
This painting also appears in six Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
One study also appears on page 143 of The Norman Rockwell Catalogue.
Pristine original copies of this magazine cover routinely sell for big bucks on eBay, when it is offered. And to think it only cost ten cents originally! And it was mint condition then, too.
Music Hath Charms
In this painting, Norman Rockwell shows us how musical ability can sometimes be used to an advantage.
The inmate in Cell Number 3 has a harmonica, and he knows how to play it.
He is apparently playing a sad song. Either that or he has hit a chord with the sheriff's psyche.
Maybe he is playing the sheriff's mother's favorite song or hymn.
Or maybe he is playing the sheriff's sweetheart's favorite melody. You know, the one that the band was playing when they met.
Either way, the sheriff has been moved to tears. He still cradles his rifle, but he has been moved.
The guard dog is asleep, so he senses no danger.
Music Hath Charms was only one of 322 Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers; Here is the list of Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations.
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
The prisoner keeps on playing, not paying any attention to the sheriff. He is just enjoying his own music.
The sheriff is modeled by Arlington, Vermont Under-Sheriff Harvey McKee.
When Mr. McKee showed up to model for the painting, Rockwell noticed his badly swollen left hand. You can see how swollen it is in the painting. He also had a broken collarbone.
Some men had beaten him as he attempted to rescue a girl in a deserted shack.
Harvey decided to go ahead and pose with his hand swollen. Rockwell captured every detail.
Norman Rockwell's Music Hath Charms (1939)
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Do you have a personal story about this painting? Do you know the model personally? Do you have a different take on the commentary?
Norman Rockwell Quotes:
I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.
No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He's got to put all his talent and feeling into them!
Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I've always called myself an illustrator. I'm not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.
Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible.
The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.
I can take a lot of pats on the back. I love it when I get admiring letters from people. And, of course, I'd love it if the critics would notice me, too.
You must first spend some time getting your model to relax. Then you'll get a natural expression.
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