Boy on Trunk by Norman Rockwell
October 1913 Issue of Boys' Life
Boy on Trunk, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of Boys' Life published October 1913.
I also like to call this painting "The Thinker," because the pose reminds me of Auguste Rodin's famous bronze sculpture.
This marked Rockwell's second cover publication.
Boy Scout readers had already become familiar with Rockwell through his article and story illustrations in previous editions.
Rockwell had been serving as the art director of Boys' Life since 1913. This was 18 year old Rockwell's first job with a magazine. Before being hired by Boy's Life, he had been doing commission work, such as Christmas cards and portraits.
The first issue of Boys' Life was published in March of 1911. The magazine was still a fairly new publication in 1913. I like to believe that a large part of its early success was due to its fine young art director.
Comparing this painting to Norman Rockwell's first cover for Boy's Life, we can see his growth as an artist. He uses light much more effectively. This painting also has much more perceived depth that the earlier one.
Boy on Trunk
This boy is probably a Boy Scout since he appears on Boys' Life. He is obviously thinking. The question that leaps to mind is "What is he so deep in thought about?"
Norman Rockwell gives us several clues.
In my opinion, the trunk has little to do with the story behind the painting. The trunk is just the stage upon which the story to be told.
The story here concerns the boy, the book he either has read or is taking a break from reading and the stones he is arranging on the top of the trunk.
I have been unable to determine what the title of the book is, although you can see from the scan that it starts and ends with S. I also cannot quite decide what the picture on the front of the book is. Any help any reader can give on this puzzle will be greatly appreciated. Please tell me if you know or have a good clue about this book.
This painting was only one of 55 Norman Rockwell Boys' Life covers; here is the list of more Norman Rockwell Boys' Life covers, advertisements and story illustrations.
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
The next part of the story is the objects he is contemplating on top of the trunk. The rocks (or whatever they are) are arranged in lines. It almost appears that he is daydreaming about football and the "rocks" are his players. There is a pattern of lines resembling a football field drawn on top of the trunk.
Let me know if you have any other ideas on what story this painting is telling.
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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?
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