Mermaid by Norman Rockwell
August 20, 1955 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Mermaid, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published August 20, 1955. This is another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for all the ages.
This painting was Rockwell's 288th 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 fourth cover for The Post in 1955. In 1955, there were four Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
The original oil on canvas painting is part of the collection of film maker Steven Spielberg and was on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art in 2010.
This painting also appears in four Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
Two studies also appears in the Norman Rockwell Catalogue on page 208.
One study for the painting, 13.75 x 11 inches or 34.9 x 27.9 cm, brought $84,000 at auction on November 29, 2006 at Sotheby's in New York City.
Pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for respectable sums on eBay, when it is offered. And to think it only cost fifteen cents originally! And it was mint condition then, too.
Norman Rockwell really pushed the boundaries with this painting.
Most readers of the Post saw the humor, but there were some who were offended. Of course, that was bound to happen sooner or later, unless Rockwell kept painting the same subject matter all the time.
Rockwell, though, was adventurous. This painting with its almost nude mermaid is proof of that.
The mermaid was modeled by a professional model hired from New York City.
I am certain that Rockwell would have been too hesitant to ask any of his usual models, his neighbors, to pose like this. He might have been punched or slapped for even thinking of it..
One of the stories that I have read said that the photographer, Bill Scovill, working with Rockwell that day would not come out from under his black focusing cloth because of embarrassment.
Those were indeed different times, weren't they?
The Post mail department received many letters about this cover.
The ranged from a minority finding it in poor taste (11), with a few more finding it obscene (21) and the majority not thinking it obscene (245).
One man from Three Rivers, Michigan, wanted to know how and where to catch a mermaid for himself!
Mermaid 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.
But what will this poor fisherman do when he gets home and his wife asks how many lobsters he caught today?
His story will be unbelievable. Then his wife will want to see.
Then, of course, he will be in trouble for not dressing his catch.
He should probably just release the mermaid. But after taking pictures. No one will believe it otherwise.
Norman Rockwell's Mermaid (1955)
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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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