No Swimming by Norman Rockwell
June 4, 1921 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
No Swimming, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published June 4, 1921.
This fan favorite painting was then and remains now one of the classic Rockwell images. When considering the art painted by Rockwell, this is one of the images that comes to mind.
This painting was Rockwell's third cover for The Post in 1921. In 1921, there were seven Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
This was also the 39th overall of 322 total Rockwell paintings published on the Post cover. 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.
The original oil on canvas painting, 25.25 x 22.25 inches or 64 x 56.5 cm, is part of the extensive collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge Massachusetts.
This painting also appears in four Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
Pristine examples of this cover regularly sell for more than one hundred dollars; in fact, many times, multiples of that figure. This is one of the hardest to find of the early Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers, especially in presentable condition. Prices reflect that scarcity.
And to think it only cost five cents when brand new.
In this painting, Norman Rockwell shows us why he is America's best loved illustrator. Even more than eighty years after the painting was finished, it remains timeless in its appeal.
In the upper center area of the painting is the title and the premise of the whole painting. A sign says "No Swimming."
We can only imagine how leisurely the boys and their dog walked past that sign making their way to the forbidden swimming hole. That part of the journey would not be nearly as interesting as the part Rockwell focused on with this painting.
We do not know how long they luxuriated in the nice cool water. Rockwell painted paintings that related to current events.
There may have been a heat wave in June 1921 that motivated Rockwell to render this image. Either way, these boys were beating the hot summer sun until just before the instant captured with this painting.
All was perfect in their world until right then.
Of, course, right about that time, a girl walks by carring her picnic basket, but she looks the other way and keeps going. Maybe she told on the boys.
Right now, the three boys and their dog are fleeing the scene of their "crime," swimming without permission. Perhaps they asked beforehand and were denied permission. Perhaps, they did not bother with asking, thinking they would be denied.
Regardless of the circumstances, they swam anyway.
Now they are in trouble.
They are being chased from the swimming hole. Are they being chased by a farmer or a sheriff? Is he on foot or on horseback? Is he armed or just way bigger than the boys?
Or are they being chased by a dog? Or both?
No Swimming 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.
They are afraid to stop and dress. All are running in various stages of undress. Except, of course, the dog.
One boy ventures a glance back at their pursuer. The others are just running as fast as they can.
They are paying just as much attention to the No Swimming sign on the way out as they did on the way in. No attention at all.
Remember to check back often.
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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