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Boy with Baby Carriage by Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell Boy with Baby Carriage
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May 20, 1916 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

Boy with Baby Carriage, the very first Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, appeared on May 20, 1916. The painting was an instant success.

This painting is also called Salutation and Home Duty.

The original oil on canvas painting, 20.75 x 18.625 inches or 53 x 47 cm, is currently housed at the Norman Rockwell Museum of Massachusetts.

This painting also appears in seven Rockwell commentary books. It appears

  • on page 27 of The Norman Rockwell Album,
  • as illustration 3 of Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch,
  • as illustration 87 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner,
  • on page 152 of Norman Rockwell: Illustrator by Arthur L. Guptill,
  • on page 59 of 50 Norman Rockwell Favorites,
  • on page 14 of Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective by Thomas Buechner and
  • on page 73 and plate 10 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

This illustration propelled Rockwell on the road to financial success, artistic recognition and popular acclaim. Rockwell viewed the Post as the best place to display what his talents and hard work could accomplish.

Nervous Norman Rockwell

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Rockwell had aspired to greater things than having his paintings published in and on children's magazines for some time before 1916. Yet he wondered if he had the stuff.

At the urging and constructive criticism of the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe, Rockwell painted two illustrations, Boy with Baby Carriage and Circus Barker and Strongman, for presentaion to the art editor of the Post.

Rockwell was very nervous about presenting his paintings to the editor of The Saturday Evening Post, George Horace Lorimer. Mr. Lorimer had a reputation of being very no-nonsense. Rockwell actually worried about being tossed out of Lorimer's office.

Well, he needn't have worried. Mr. Lorimer loved the two paintings Rockwell presented and bought them on the spot for $75.00 each. That would be over $1000.00 each in today's money. Quite a sum for a virtually unknown artist!

Indeed, that meeting was the start of a relationship that lasted 47 years and over 300 paintings!

Boy with Baby Carriage or Salutation

The picture shows three young boys on a Sunday afternoon.

Two boys are off to play baseball. They are dressed in baseball uniforms with baseball caps and baseball gloves. Both are making goofy faces and gestures to the third boy.

These boys are off to enjoy a day of what boys like best. They are off to play baseball for a while.

After baseball is played out for the day, they will find some other way to pass the time.

They make go to the creek and fish or catch frogs. They may build a fort. They may play pirates. They may even play soldier.

But they will not be baby sitting!

The third boy, dressed in his Sunday best clothes, has his baby sister in a baby carriage taking a stroll. He also has a baby bottle in his breast pocket. He looks livid about the other boys' demeaning gestures.

Judging by the way his hat strap is flying backwards, the third boy is pushing the stroller past his tormentors as fast as he can!

How cruel fate can be sometimes.

I'm sure there are many emotions going through his head. Anger, frustration, jealousy... You can probably think of even more.

When he was painting the three boys in this illustration, Rockwell only used one model, Billy Paine. Billy was Rockwell's favorite model for many years. He appeared in many of Rockwell's works.

In an interview published in the November 1930 American magazine, Rockwell remembered Billy Paine.

"There was Billy Paine," he began.

"He was twelve years old," he said shaking his head. "There was my best friend. He died - fell from an apartment house when he was doing some kid stunt, climbing. They don't make many kids like Billy."

"Billy liked to pose - for the first few minutes. Then he wanted to throw things, or go out and play. Finally, I found a way to hold him. I had learned that if I paid him with a check, he would never come back to work for many days. A check didn't mean anything to him. So I paid him cash at the end of the day. Still he would become restless."

"I got a lot of quarters and piled them up. 'Billy,' I said, 'you'll get one of these every half hour, as long as you work.'"

"That was something he could understand. Every half hour, I would give him a quarter and point to the others that would be his if he kept on the job. The plan was a success, and I've used it for children ever since."

The May 20, 1916 Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell, Boy and Baby Carriage

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Norman Rockwell's Boy with Baby Carriage or Salutation (1916)

(Image Only) Copyright © 1916 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company

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Do You Have A Great Story, Opinion Or Contribution About Boy with Baby Carriage?

Do you have a personal story about this painting? Do you know the model personally? Do you have a different take on the commentary?

Please share!

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.

More at BrainyQuote.

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Game Called Because of Rain
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Game Called Because of Rain (Three Umpires)
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Freedom from Want
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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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