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Willie Gillis In College by Norman Rockwell

Willie Gillis In College by Norman Rockwell
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October 5, 1946 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

This painting by Norman Rockwell, Willie Gillis In College, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published October 5, 1946. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.

This painting was Rockwell's fifth cover for The Post in 1946. In 1946, there were seven Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.

This painting was also Rockwell's 241st 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.

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, 36 x 35 inches or 91.5 x 90 cm, is owned by the Washington Mutual Bank os Seattle.

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

  • as illustration 260 of Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch,
  • as illustration 399 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner and
  • on page 170 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

One of the photographs taken during the staging of this painting is reproduced in Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick on page 82.

This classic Norman Rockwell painting shows Willie Gillis, America's boy next door, studying his lessons at college.

Willie Gillis In College

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This was the eleventh and final chapter 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.

The year is 1946. Willie Gillis, America's favorite enlisted man, has left the service and is now attending college on the GI Bill.

This episode in the Willie Gillis saga changed the style of the other paintings.

A background image has been added. All the other covers in the Willie Gillis series, had homogenous backgrounds. The previous installments had an almost Art Deco feel to them. This one seems more real, almost like looking at a photograph of the scene taking place.

Willie is also finally depicted in civilian clothes smoking his tobacco pipe in a peaceful setting.

Of course, the war was only a tangential subject in all the other Gillis Post covers. Gillis was never put in danger in the paintings.

This painting confirmed Post readers hopes that the war ended well for Gillis and his family. This cover alerted Post readers that Willie made it through Worls War Two alive.

Willie has matured so much between the first painting and this last one in the series, that we might not have recognized him for certain, except for a device Rockwell used as a prop. His name is written on one of his books. We may have recognized Willie from a full frontal view of his face but the view presented in this painting makes recogntion harder.

Several relics and souvenirs from the war are proudly on display in Willie's room.

A bayonet amd a helmet hang overhead in front of what looks like a captured red, black and white German swastika. On the wall hangs what look like seargent striipes. The last episode in the series showed Willie with the rank of private, so he must have performed his war duties well and earned a promotion.

We can also see that Willie has taken up golf since his discharge. His set of golf clubs is leaning against the wall, just waiting for studies to be completed. Then it's off to the links.

The center of the painting is dominated by the window Willie is sitting in. He is enjoying both the warmth of the sunshine and the natural light for easier reading.

Does anyone recognize the building and the tower? Can anyone tell which college Willie is attending? The college would probably be located in New England since both the artist and the mosel hail from that region.

Please accompany your answers with a photo of the Building and tower.

Norman Rockwell: Willie Gillis In College

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Norman Rockwell's Willie Gillis In College (1946)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1946 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

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Willie Gillis's College Setting Is Middlebury College Not rated yet
The building seen in the background is Old Chapel, the central feature of "Old Stone Row" at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. Old Chapel was …

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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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