Boy Lifting Weights by Norman Rockwell
April 29, 1922 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Boy Lifting Weights, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published April 29, 1922.
The alternate title for this painting is It's Easy to Be a Man.
This painting was Rockwell's forty-seventh 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.
It was also the fourth Rockwell cover in 1922. The Post featured a Rockwell illustration on its cover ten times in 1922.
The location of the original painting is not known.
This illustration has been reproduced in three Rockwell commentary books, on page 28 of The Norman Rockwell Album, as illustration 154 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner and on page 89 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Prime examples of this cover illustration, like all of the early Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers, are exceedingly difficult to find in presentable condition.
This illustration, focusing on fitness, has become increasingly popular and therefore more excpensive to own in recent years. I have seen this cover sell for well above one hundred dollars in somewhat mediocre condition. Expect to pay more for better examples.
Boy Lifting Weights
Norman Rockwell uses this painting to show us one of the questions of boyhood. "What does it take to be a man?"
Of course, the simple answer is presented here in the mind of the boy in the painting.
Here we see a boy attempting to increase his size and muscularity. He is lifting weights. The inscription on his muscle shirt is telling. "CHAMP" implies that he has some athletic goal in mind. He is not just attempting to impress a member of the fairer sex.
The chair behind the young man impresses us with his sense of urgency. His trousers and jacket are both in the chair. They have not even been hung up after wearing. His school books are on top of his clothes.
Obviously, he has rushed home, changed into his workout clothes in a hurry and is now concentrating hard on the task at hand.
The poster pinned on the wall shows a muscular man. The man's physique and attire are almost reminiscent of a caveman, albeit a clean shaven one. My apologies if that offends any cavemen out there! I didn't know you guys were still around!
The slogan on the poster "IT'S EASY... BE A MAN" is, of course, absurd. Changing what your body looks like may be fairly simple, but it requires a time and effort commitment that is not necessarily "easy."
Boy Lifting Weights 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.
The card pinned beside the weightlifter poster shows six different exercises for the aspiring would-be man to repeat. Following this regimen would help the boy to at least be muscular.
Rockwell didn't tackle the finer points of becoming a man in this painting. He focused on the humorous simplicity of this situation.
And, of course, the boy's dog is wondering what all the fuss is about.
(Image Only) Copyright © 1922 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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