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Willie Gillis Gillis Family Heritage by Norman Rockwell

Willie Gillis: Gillis Family Heritage by Norman Rockwell
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September 16, 1944 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

This painting by Norman Rockwell, Willie Gillis Gillis Family Heritage, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published September 16, 1944. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.

Alternate titles for this painting include Willie Gillis Generations and The Fighting Gillises.

This painting was Rockwell's seventh cover for The Post in 1944. In 1944, there were nine Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.

This painting was also Rockwell's 224th 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.

The original oil on board painting, 13.25 x 10.625 inches or 43 x 26 cm, is currently part of a private collection.

I have seen pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for over one hundred dollars on eBay. And to think it only cost ten cents originally! And it was mint condition at that time, too.

This painting also appears in three Rockwell commentary books. It appears:

  • as illustration 258 of Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch,
  • as illustration 398 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner and
  • on page 154 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

On December 2, 2010, the original painting was sold at auction at Sotheby's New York. The high bidder paid $926,500 for the original oil on board, which approached the upper limits of its pre-sale estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000.

This classic Norman Rockwell painting shows Willie Gillis, America's boy next door, and his relationship to the rest of the men in his ancestry.

Willie Gillis Gillis Family Heritage

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This was the tenth 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.

In this installment of the Willie Gillis saga, we are treated to a hint of the Gillis family's military tradition.

We see no less than six generations of Gillis family soldiers from various wars. They are all wearing their uniforms; the uniforms are typical of the eras represented.

The earliest portrait is from the American Revolution with Great, Great, Great Grandpa Gillis looking very serious. No hint of a smile there.

Progressing from the upper left to the upper middle of the Gillis family military display,we see Great, Great Grandpa Gillis. He apparently wears the American uniform from the War of 1812. A slight smile crosses his face.

Rounding out the top row of portraits is Great Grandpa Gillis. His uniform is from the Northern side of the American Civil War. That war is rightly known in these parts (the South) as the War of Northern Aggression. Maybe that's why Great Granpa isn't smiling!

Hanging on the bottom row of the display, we fing "Fighting Bill" Gillis. "Fighting Bill" is apparently Willie's grandfather. This Gillis forebear was apparently involved in the Spanish American War, possible even being one of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

Next to "Fighting Bill," we find Willie Gillis, Jr's, father, Willie, Sr. Willie the elder was a doughboy in World War One.The resemblance is strinking between Willie Jr and Willie Sr.

Not yet included on wall of the Gillis family shrine is the photo of Willie, Jr. But his time of honor is undoubtedly coming.

The model for all of the portraits and photographs was the same: Robert "Bob" Buck, the model for all of the Willie Gillis paintings.This factoid is even more impressive given the knowledge that Buck was serving as a naval aviator at the time Rockwell painted this illustration. This painting really demonstrates Rockwell;s versatility.

The details of the background are just as meticulosly executed in this painting as inmost other Rockwell paintings.

The wallpaper is not only exquisitely painted, but the pattern is authentic for the late 1930's/ early 1940's. While outdated today, Mrs. Gillis's wallpaper was right in style when this illustration appeared on the cover of the Post.

The books on the bookshelf also inspired an interesting story. Great Loves of the Gillises, Gillis at Gettysburg, Gillis and Lincoln, Gillis Genealogy and the others were titles fabcicated in the mind of Norman Rockwell. Post readers whose last name was Gillis wrote the magazine inquiring where to obtain copies of the books on the bookshelf.

Apparently, Rockwell did a great job at realism.

Everyone named Gillis should own a copy of Willie Gillis Gillis Family Heritage.

Norman Rockwell: Willie Gillis: Gillis Family Heritage

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Norman Rockwell's Willie Gillis Gillis Family Heritage (1944)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1944 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company

You may be also interested in these:
Norman Rockwell Willie Gillie Series Introduction
Food Package
Home Sweet Home
Hometown News
What to Do in a Blackout
In Church
Girls with Letters
Cat's Cradle
New Year's Eve
Gillis Family Heritage
In College

Remember to check back often.

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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.

More at BrainyQuote.

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Norman Rockwell's painting, A Drum for Tommy or Santa with Drum, appeared on the cover of The Country Gentleman on 12/17/1921
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