Gramps at the Plate by Norman Rockwell
August 5, 1916 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Gramps at the Plate, this Norman Rockwell painting, was featured on the August 5, 1916 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
This was the third of over 300 Rockwell cover to appear on the cover of The Post.
The location of the original oil on canvas painting is unknown.
This painting has been reproduced in one Rockwell commentary book,on page 74 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
I have seen copies of this original cover sell for more than 200 dollars in pristine condition. This cover doesn't turn up at auction very often.
The Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Cover... that almost wasn't
The story behind the publishing of this cover is one of Rockwell's most interesting.
The editor of The Saturday Evening Post at the time was George Horace Lorimer. After approving and buying Rockwell's first two cover paintings, Boy with Baby Carriage and Circus Barker and Strongman, Mr. Lorimer started to test his aspiring young illustrator.
At the first presentation of the painting, Mr. Lorimer said the old man looked too rough and tramplike. Anxious to continue his success and cement his career with the Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell dutifully repainted Gramps.
At the second presentation, Mr. Lorimer said the old man looked too old. Rockwell painted it again. Next, the kid was too small. He painted it again.
Rockwell painted and repainted this cover a total of five times. Finally, he passed the Post editor's test... and passed with flying colors.
He remarked in his autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, that he wondered if the editor knew how close he came to giving up.
Another Masterwork by Norman Rockwell
Rockwell's favorite subjects to paint were children, older people and pets.
In Gramps at the Plate, Rockwell painted two of his favorite subjects.
Gramps looks very competent and competitive with the baseball bat in his hand. He is sizing up the pitcher. Gramps is ready to knock it out of the park. Gramps is serious about his baseball.
Gramps at the Plate was only one of 322 Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers; Here is the list of Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations.
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
We assume the little boy is Gramps' grandson. Let's call him Sonny. Sonny has removed his catcher's mask.
With a grin on his face, Sonny is directing the pitcher to throw number 2. From Sonny's stance, we can tell the pitch will be low and outside.
The mystery of this painting is whether Gramps will be able to even hit low and outside. Gramps must be a pretty good hitter if they are throwing around him!
As is obvious from the painting, Norman Rockwell was a masterful storyteller.
Norman Rockwell's Gramps at the Plate (1916)
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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?
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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