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Going and Coming by Norman Rockwell

Going and Coming Norman Rockwell
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August 30, 1947 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

Going and Coming, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published August 30, 1947. This is another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.

This painting was Rockwell's fifth cover for The Post in 1947. In 1947, there were seven Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.

This was also Rockwell's 248th cover illustration out of 322 Rockwell painted for 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.

Going and Coming is actually two paintings displayed one on top of the other with Coming displayed mounted above Going.

The two original oil on canvas paintings, 16 x 31.5 inches or 40.5 x 80 cm, are part of the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge Massachusetts.

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

  • on page 48 of The Norman Rockwell Album,
  • as illustration 129 of Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch and
  • on page 175 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

Several photographs used in painting this illustration are reproduced in Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick on pages 86 through 93 and on the front and back covers. The painting itself is also reproduced in that book.

I have seen pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for big bucks on eBay. And to think it only cost fifteen cents originally! Of course, it was mint condition then, too.

Going and Coming

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This is one of the most famous Norman Rockwell paintings. It is also a favorite of many a collector.

Norman Rockwell has captured and expressed, with this series of two paintings, both the spirit and actuality of a day trip with the family to the lake.

The lake trip was, according to the pennant flying on the front of the car, a jaunt out to Lake Bennington. Lake Bennington is located in Washington State, just outside Walla Walla.

The pennant is not our only clue about nature of the day trip. The small boat, named "Skippy" secured to the roof of the car, along with the fishing pole, suggests to us that Father had some trolling in mind for this trip. Indeed, Mother or one of the children may have been the angler in the family.

The cast of characters and the contrasts between the two paintings, also tells us a lot about the trip, as well as the family.

Starting in the front seat of the car, we see Father, Mother and Little Sister.

In the Going painting, Father looks very eager, smoking a fresh cigar. He sits up straight and his hat is still worn fashionably low on his forehead. He grips the steering wheel confidently with both hands.

In the Coming painting, however, he looks greatly exhausted. Most of us can relate to that rendition. His cigar has long been finished, only a nub remains. He is hunched over the steering wheel, just hanging on. The day at Lake Bennington has been rough on dear old Dad.

Next to Father sits Mother with Little Sister in her lap. Of course, 1947 knew no child safety seats or laws requiring such. In Going, Mother is wide awake and focusing on the road ahead. Little Sister follows Mother's lead and is looking over the dashboard to the adventure ahead.

On the trip back home. in Coming, Mother is sound asleep, but still holding Little Sister. Little Sister seems to be wide awake and looking over the dashboard at the road back home.

Looking out the midddle window, we can see both Big Brother and Big Sister, as well as Big Brother's faithful companion, the family dog.

In Going, Big Brother is anticipating the lake so much that he is actually leaning out the window to get a better look at the road ahead. Of course, his pooch is following his lead. Big Sister, modeled by Yvonne Cross, is blowing a bubble with her bubble gum and seems to be looking directly at us.

The Coming picture find the three more restrained, though hardly exhausted. Big Brother still looks, with his head outside the window, at the road ahead. The dog is still enjoying the fresh air with jsut his nose and mouth hanging outside the car. Big Sister appears to still be chewing the same piece of bubble gum, is still blowing bubbles, albeit cradling her head with her hands. She is still looking directly at us.

Looking through the back window, we see Little Brother and Grandmother.

The only contrast between Going and Coming is seen in Little Brother. In the first scene, he is taunting an approaching car that is just coming into the scene from behind. He is holding his nose, as if to say the th approaching vehicle stinks. He is very animated and is also hanging out of the window.

The return trip tells a different story for Little Brother. He is not asleep yet, but his eyes are drooping and he is fading fast. Undoubtedly, he expended a lot of energy at Lake Bennington, just as he did on the drive there.

The only unchanged characted between Going and Coming is Grandmother. She wears the same expression and exhibits the same posture in both paintings. One has to wonder if she ever even got out of the car, since her portrait is the same in both halves of the painting.

The family apparently spent all day at the lake. Clues to the time difference include the shade of the paint of the car, darker in Going, and a lighted lampost seen in the background through the middle window.

The untold story here is that someone, probably Father, still has to unload the car when the family reaches home. He will have to put up all the gear and untie and take "Skippy" down off the car roof.

Mother will have to revive herself and then get the childred fed some supper and then get them cleaned up and then off to bed.

Norman Rockwell: Going and Coming

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Norman Rockwell's Going and Coming (1947)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1947 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company

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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 Christmas and Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving Galleries are open.

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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