Merry Christmas Grandpa by Norman Rockwell
December 1916 Issue of American Boy
Merry Christmas Grandpa, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of American Boy published December 1916.
This was the first picture by Rockwell to appear on the American Boy cover. American Boy only published five Rockwell covers, between 1916 and 1920.
This painting was also reproduced in Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt on page 4.
Rockwell only submitted to this and other smaller magazines after the publishers of the larger magazines had declined to publish the cover illustration.
Obviously, Rockwell's first choice of publication was The Saturday Evening Post. He believed that the Post cover was America's biggest showcase window for artists. Of course, his career confirmed his theory.
Merry Christmas Grandpa
In this painting, Norman Rockwell gives us a glimpse into a family Christmas celebration.
Here we see Grandpa opening Jack's present. We know their names because Rockwell has painted an enlarged gift tag at the bottom for us to see. The gift tag also gives us the painting title. We do not know whether Rockwell made up the design for the gift tag or whether he simply painted one already in use. Given Rockwell's penchant for realism, I believe the latter.
This painting was only one of numerous Norman Rockwell magazine covers;
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
Jack has given Grandpa a pair of comfortable, red slippers. He is clutching them in one hand while holding and reading the gift tag with the other.
Look at Jack, in his suit and bow tie, slightly in the background in this picture. He is anxiously awaiting Grandpa's appreciation of his gift. Given the era of the painting, Jack may even have picked out and paid for the slippers himself.
We can also see the Christmas tree, all decorated with tinsel, red and balls, miniature drums, but no lights.
I believe Grandpa is the same man as depicted in the Saturday Evening Post cover painting, Man Playing Santa.
There are several reasons I believe this.
First, their appearances are the same. Second, they were both published within two weeks of each other. Third, look at the toys shown in this painting and at the toys shown in that painting. There is one toy in each that is identical. I do not know what that toy was called, but it looks as if you could punch it down and it would stand back up.
Rockwell often used his props over and over. If you notice any other similarities between the two paintings, please let me know.
Remember to check back often.
Do you have a personal story about this painting? Do you know the model personally? Do you have a different take on the commentary?
Images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders.
Graphic Files Protected by Digimarc.
Contact us for details about using our articles on your website.
The only requirements are an acknowledgement and a link.