The Valedictorian by Norman Rockwell
June 14, 1919 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
The Valedictorian, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published June 14, 1919.
The alternate titles for this illustration are Graduation Speaker and Recitation.
This painting was Rockwell's nineteenth overall picture out of 322 total featured on the cover of The Post. Rockwell's career with the Post spanned 47 years, from his first cover illustration, Boy With Baby Carriage in 1916 to his last, Portrait of John F. Kennedy, in 1963.
This was also the fifth Rockwell cover in 1919. The Post featured a Rockwell illustration on its cover eleven times in 1919.
The original oil on canvas painting, 30 x 24 inches or 76.2 x 61 cm, is part of a private collection.
This painting has reproduced in one Rockwell commentary book, on page 79 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Original copies of this magazine cover in pristine condition have routinely sold for well over one hundred dollars on eBay. And it only cost a nickel when it was new.
This Norman Rockwell painting shows a familiar graduation scene.
All the children are dressed in their finest outfits. The boys wear neckties and coats. The girls have on their prettiest dresses.
Two children have already received their diplomas. They have finished the walk and are sitting down. They might possibly be second and third in the class order.
Now it is the Valedictorian's turn.
The valedictorian traditionally gives a speech after receiving his diploma. However, this boy looks perplexed. He is scratching his head. He is looking up and to his left, trying to remember his speech, or at least some part of it.
The girl behind him on the stage looks to be trying to help him remember. Perhaps she helped him write the speech. Perhaps she coached him while he memorized it.
The Valedictorian 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.
For some reason, she seems invested in the success of his speech.
The boy behind him, however, looks genuinely tickled at his classmate's predicament.
He is giggling behind his hand. His eyes are smiling. Could it be that he was Salutatorian and is just glad he was spared? Or is he jealous of his classmate.
(Image Only) Copyright © 1919 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company
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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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