The Magician by Norman Rockwell
November 20, 1916 Issue of Popular
The Magician, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of Popular published November 20, 1916.
An alternate title for this painting is Presto.
This was the first cover by Rockwell to appear on The Popular. The Popular only published two Rockwell covers, this one in 1916 and one in 1919. You can see the next Rockwell cover illustration for Popular magazine here.
Rockwell only submitted to this smaller magazine after the publishers of the larger magazines had declined to publish the cover illustration.
Clearly, 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. And his career confirmed this.
Presto! Now the magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. It would appear to be a hat from the audience, too, because the magician's top hat is resting on the table in the corner. Indeed, The hat is question is a bowler and hardly looks big enough to conceal a rabbit.
Of course, we are talking about magic, after all!
This painting was only one of numerous Norman Rockwell magazine covers;
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
The little boy helping the magician looks absolutely amazed.
This trick is very possibly the finale of the magician's act. We can see remnants of previous tricks on the stage. Playing cards are strewn on the floor. He hasn't put away his props yet either. A seemingly endless string of handkerchiefs is hanging out of the top of the top hat. A glass and a pitcher are also visible.
We do not know where Rockwell got the idea for this painting. It might have been drawn from Rockwell's childhood memories. Or he might have seen it during a Vaudeville act and recreated it with models.
The Rarest Rockwell?This is one of the rarest Rockwell cover illustrations. I have never actually seen a copy in person, only a scan of this issue.
This issue was on sale on eBay. I did not bid high enough to obtain that copy. I haven't seen it for sale since that day. The seller was kind enough to give me permission to use his auction picture.
Both Popular covers are extremely hard for collectors to find. Please contact me if you have a copy for sale or high resolution scans for sale .
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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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