Willie Gillis Food Package by Norman Rockwell
October 4, 1941 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
This painting by Norman Rockwell, Willie Gillis Food Package, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published October 4, 1941. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.
Another title for this painting is Willie Gillis: Package from Home.
This painting was Rockwell's fourth cover for The Post in 1941. In 1941, there were six Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
This painting was also Rockwell's 202nd overall of 322 total pictures featured on the cover of The 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 is also the first in the Norman Rockwell Willie Gillis series of covers for The Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell painted eleven images that appeared on the Post cover and one illustration that was featured inside the Post.
I have seen pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for over one hundred dollars on eBay. And to think it only cost five cents originally! And it was mint condition at that time, too.
The whereabouts of the original oil on canvas painting is currently unknown.
This painting also appears in five Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
It also appears on page 66 of A Treasury of the Saturday Evening Post.
Willie Gillis Food Package
This classic Norman Rockwell painting introduces Willie Gillis to the readers of the Saturday Evening Post. Over the course of the next five years, those readers would feel as if Willie was just like the boy next door.
Willie certainly made a good impression in his first appearance.
And Norman Rockwell captured an important event in the day of a GI. Mail call was probably the GI's favorite time, except for maybe Mess call. Rockwell give us a glimpse of both in this painting.
Private Willie has just received a "care package" from home. The return address written on the package is "Mrs.W.Gillis." We can safely assume that Mrs. Gillis is either Willie's mother or possibly his grandmother.
Apparently the other servicemen assume that anything either of those women have sent is superior to the mess cook's cuisine. Better or worse, at least it's different. And almost certainly the package contains sweet treats!
The label on the package, "FOOD" in large letters and "NO DELAY" in smaller letters, was an unneeded, in Willie's mind, advertisment telling everyone who saw it to come and eat. The only problem is that mail call did not always bring such riches as cookies and hard candy.
In the painting, we see seven American servicemen. All are smiling, save one: Willie! He is concerned about the fate of his food package. He is looking out the corner of his eye at the men following him.
Willie Gillis Food Package 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.
It could be that this is Willie Gillis food package was the first he had received from home. He may not be aware of the protocol of sharing his bounty. I have a feeling he will learn soon, though.
Two of the men following Willie definitely outrank him. They have stripes on their sleeves. Every one of the men is bigger than Willie. But I doubt that any of these guys would assail Willie and take his package. Especially with all these witnesses.
Surely Willie will open his package with his new friends and share. Then he will have good reason to expect reciprocation when these other guys receive their care packages from loved ones at home.
(Image Only) Copyright © 1941 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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