Girl Returning From Camp by Norman Rockwell
August 14, 1940 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
This painting by Norman Rockwell, Girl Returning From Camp, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published August 14, 1940. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.
Another title for this painting is Home From Camp.
This painting was Rockwell's fifth cover for The Post in 1940. In 1940, there were seven Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
This is also the 196th overall out of 322 total Rockwell paintings that graced 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.
I have seen pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for big bucks on eBay. And to think it only cost five cents originally! And it was mint condition at that time, too.
The original oil on canvas painting, 40.5 x 31 inches or 103 x 78.5 cm, is currently part of a private collection.
This illustration is also reproduced on page 145 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
This classic Norman Rockwell painting originally created a minor controversy when it was first published..
Boy? or Girl Returning From Camp?
When it was first published on the cover of the Post, Girl Returning From Camp created a minor controversy.
Now, this was not a controversy like we have today. There were no popular athletes taking steroids, no celebrities acting inappropriately or anything like those modern scandals associated with this painting.
No, the controversy started by this painting was much more innocent, and it was just a controversy, not a scandal.
You see, a lot of Post readers could not decide whether the subject of the painting was a boy or a girl, a male or a female. Now, from our vantage point, we know that she is a girl. After the title of the painting is Girl Returning From Camp.
A lot of Rockwell's fan mail after this painting was published was directed toward the question of the subject's gender. Some readers thought she may have been a boy in desperate need of a haircut. Many wagers were made between frineds, co-workers and family members concerning the subject's sex.
But you have to admit that Rockwell painted her rather unfemininely.
The young lady is coming home from camp. Summer camp was a typical summertime experience for the nation's youth in the 1940's.
She obviously stayed long enough to get her fill, although she doesn't looks very happy to be returning. But just look at all the things she is bringing back with her.
Girl Returning From Camp 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.
She has a snake in s jar, a turtle on a string and various plants and flowers. And it looks like she has picked up a hitchhiking squirrel.
And all this is in addition to all the luggage and paraphenalia that she lugged to camp and is now lugging back home.
The sticker on her backpack says "Camp Out-O-Doors." Rockwell was fond of using such props to clarify the situation he was painting.
You can read more about the controversy, including some of the fan letters, about this painting here.
(Image Only) Copyright © 1940 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company
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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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