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The Referee by Norman Rockwell

The Referee by Norman Rockwell
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October 21, 1950 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post


The Referee, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published October 21, 1950. This is yet another favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic enduring image of the world Rockwell painted.

An alternate title for this painting is The Toss.

This painting was Rockwell's 265th overall out of 322 total paintings that were published on the cover of the Saturday Evening 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 was also the third cover for The Post in 1950. In 1950, there were four Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.

The original oil on canvas painting, 49 x 39 inches or 124.5 x 99 cm, is part of the collection of the National Museum of American Illustration.

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

  • as illustration 296 of Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch
  • as illustration 468 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner and
  • on page 186 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

Pristine original copies of this magazine cover routinely sell for big bucks on eBay, when it is offered. And to think it only cost fifteen cents originally! And it was mint condition then, too.




The Referee

Giclee Prints on Archival Paper:
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Available as Oil on Canvas:
Oil on Canvas Reproduction

This is one of those instantly recognizable images that Norman Rockwell was famous for.

The Coin Toss, as it is somtimes known, is as much Americana as anything that Rockwell painted.

Thr time period of the game in question is circa the 1920's judging by the uniforms. The helmet held by the player in the red is a dead giveaway.

Both captains are intent on watching the coin that the referee has flipped into the air. Oftrntimes the first posession of the game swings the momentum when the teams are evenly matched.

So this seemingly chance event can really impact a close game.

The artwork on this painting looks amost caricatured to me. The characters are not as lifelike as other works that Rockwell painted during the same period.

Still no one expects an artist to paint with the same style in every painting .


The October 21, 1950 Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell entitled The Referee

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Norman Rockwell's The Referee (1950)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1950 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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