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Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

Golden Rule Norman Rockwell
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April 1, 1961 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

Golden Rule, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published April 1, 1961. This is another classic favorite of Rockwell collectors, a timeless image for the ages.

This painting was Rockwell's first cover for The Post in 1961. In 1961, there were only three Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.

This was also Rockwell's 314th 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.

The original oil on canvas painting, 44.5 x 39.5 inches or 113.5 x 100.5 cm, is part of the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge Massachusetts. The museum also posesses a pencil on paper study , 44.5 x 40.5 inches or 113.5 x 103 cm, of this illustration.

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

  • on page 191 of The Norman Rockwell Album,
  • as illustration 143 of Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective by Thomas Buechner,
  • on page 73 of The Importance of Norman Rockwell ,
  • on page 155 of The Faith of America by Fred Bauer ,
  • as a color plate in Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms by Stuart Murray and James C. McCabe,
  • on page 85 of Norman Rockwell: America's Most Beloved Painter by Karal Ann Marling,
  • page 185 of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell by Linda Szekely Pero ,
  • on pages 410 and 447 of Norman Rockwell 332 Magazine Covers by Christopher Finch,
  • on page 103 of Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People by Maureen Hart Hennessey and Anne Knutson,
  • as illustrations 572 and 581 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner and
  • on page 230 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

Several studies were also reproduced in Norman Rockwell Album on pages 184 and 185.

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

Golden Rule

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

This classic Norman Rockwell painting shows a veritable multitude of people all getting along together.

This painting reminds me of Freedom to Worship from the Four Freedoms series published in 1943.

The inscription from Freedom to Worship, "EACH ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF HIS OWN CONSCIENCE." is very similar in both tone and sentiment to the inscription on Golden Rule.

The inscription "DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU" pretty much sums up the rule given by Jesus in The Bible. I am sure there are similar references in other religious texts also.

In fact, Rockwell says that he had been researching the major religions. All of them have a similar teaching. They do not use the same words, but all have the same meaning in one of their teachings.

We can see that there are many races, religions and countries represented by the subjects in the painting. There are Blacks, Whites and Orientals represented.

Children are positioned in the front of the assemblage, almost forming a staristep effect around the two older children in the center of the composition.

Two small children held in their mothers' arms are positioned near the front center of the painting.

Between, but slightly behind, the mothers, we see a Jewish rabbi and a man who appears to be an American farmer.

At the back corners are two more children being held by their mothers. And in the center in the back is the fifth child being held and loved by her mother.

Around the edge at the back, we can see more different colors, races and nationalities of people. I am not conversant with the world's nationalities and religions to do more than fathom a guess at all their individual identities, so I will not attempt that.

It is sufficient to say that all these peoples have been brought together and united by a common creed. As they should be.

Sadly, in the real world, greed, avarice and hatred often overcome this most basic tenet of respect for others, especially on a national level.

Whether or not those base emotions are influenced by those people and institutions who stand the most to gain is pretty evident to those who really pay attention. We can usually just follow the money.

As Forest Gump wisely says, "That's all I'm gonna say about that." This really is not a political blog.

"Treat your brother or sister as you want to be treated."

The universality of that basic concept is further implied by Rockwell's extending the group of people beyond the border of the canvas. We can see that more people are one the side and top extending out.

This is one of Norman Rockwell's most popular paintings and not just because of his masterful execution. The topic of the painting, carefully selected by the artist, also adds to its appeal.

Norman Rockwell: Golden Rule, the April 1, 1961 Saturday Evening Post cover

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Norman Rockwell's Golden Rule (1961)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1961 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.

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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
Norman Rockwell Santa Claus
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