Willie Gillis Girls with Letters by Norman Rockwell
September 5, 1942 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
This painting by Norman Rockwell, Willie Gillis Girls with Letters, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published September 5, 1942. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.
Another title for this painting is Double Trouble for Willie Gillis.
This painting was Rockwell's sixth cover for The Post in 1942. In 1942, there were eight Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published. This was also the 210th overall of 322 total Rockwell paintings published on the Post cover.
This painting was also Rockwell's 210th 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 seventh 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 original oil on canvas painting is currently part of a private collection.
This painting also appears in four Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
This classic Norman Rockwell painting shows two prospective girlfriends of Willie Gillis, America's boy next door..
Willie Gillis Girls with Letters
Oh, that Willie Gillis! Did every American serviceman have as many sweethearts as he did?
Not only that, but these two sweethearts are actually sisters.
The models for this painting are the two daughters of artist and illustrator Mead Schaeffer, a close friend and neighbor of Rockwell. The pretty blonde is Lee and the gorgeous redhead is Patty.
Both daughters, along with their father, also appear in the Christmas painting, Christmas Homecoming.
Patty, the redhead, was also tapped to be Willie Gillis's girlfriend in another Gillis painting, New Year's Eve. In that painting, she is shown at home in bed, spending New Year's Eve alone, watched over by several photos of Willie.
In this painting, the girls are shown arguing. Both received a photo of Willie in the mail. Both received the photo on the same day. The biggest problem is that they both went to their mailboxes at the same time.
The photos received are identical in every way, right down to the "Love, Willie" inscription.
Surely, the biggest question in their minds right now is who Willie loves more. But their main thought, after hoping he is alive and well, is "Wait till I get my hands on him!!" Willie may be longing for the war once these beauties get ahold of him.
Both girls are apparently gardeners. Two gardening hoes are shown lying on the ground next to the mailboxes. Both wear gardening gloves.
Willie Gillis Girls with Letters 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.
Patty, the readhead, is dressed more appropriately for gardening. Lee, the blonde, is shown wearing a short skirt. Maybe Rockwell painted them in contrast to accentuate their differences. The blond girl certainly has longer legs than the redhead. Even bending down in her argumentative pose, she is the taller of the two girls.
Another indicator of the tension in the painting is how the girls have treated the envelopes. Patty is crushing her envelope in her left hand while displaying her Willie photo with her right hand. Lee has dropped her envelope on the ground and is using her free hand to point at her photo of Willie.
One question I would love answered: why are the mailboxes so short?
Norman Rockwell's Willie Gillis Girls with Letters (1942)
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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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