Christmas Trio by Norman Rockwell
December 8, 1923 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Christmas Trio, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published December 8, 1923.
Alternate titles for this painting are Christmas Carolers and Sing Merrilie.
The original oil on board, 28.25 x 25.5 inches or 72 x 54.5 cm, is currently part of the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum of Massachusetts.
This painting also appears in four Rockwell commentary books. It appears on page 30 of The Norman Rockwell Album, as illustration 165 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner, on page 36 of Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective by Thomas Buechner and on page 95 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt. Two different preliminary versions, studies, of this painting also appeared in The Norman Rockwell Album on page 138.
This painting was Rockwell's sixty-second 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 ninth Rockwell cover in 1923. The Post featured a Rockwell illustration on its cover nine times in 1923.
The original cover price was only five cents.
Here is another famous Norman Rockwell Christmas illustration.
Very few things elicit the spirit as much as Christmas caroling. Rockwell knew this and captured both the act and the emotion almost perfectly.
The three characters in this painting all play their part to make the whole painting and song beautiful. We are only left to guess at the identity of their audience. Of course, Rockwell's audience was everyone in America who read The Saturday Evening Post.
The three characters shown in the painting are all diverse in several different ways. Young and old, thin and heavy, there is a lot of variety in these characters.
The smallest and youngest is, of course, the little boy. He is singing "merrilie." He is dressed warmly, with a short jacket, mittens and an overly long scarf that he has wrapped around his ears, head and throat. Notice how the elbow of his jacket is somewhat tattered. Rockwell had an extensive costume collection. No doubt this particular jacket was purchased well used.
On our left we see the oldest and heaviest of the Trio. He also is dressed for winter weather. His hat is festooned with a sprig of holly.
The instrument played by the gentleman on the left appears to be an oboe. An oboe seems like an odd instrument for Christmas carols, though. If you know what the instrument is, please send any more accurate information through the form at the bottom of this page.
The man in the center is both taller and thinner than the musician on the left. In addition to playing the violin or fiddle, he is also singing along with the boy. He apparently knows both the words and music by heart, since he is not looking down at the hymnal the boy is holding.
Christmas Trio 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 violinist's attire is somewhat perplexing to me. His topcoat looks fancier than his two companions' coats. However, his hat, even though it is a top hat, looks like it has seen better days. His scarf is neatly tucked inside his coat unlike his companions. He also looks colder to me than the others do.
In the background, we can see their little corner of the world. The carolers look like a little brightness compared to the dimness of the background.
They are apparently shedding some Christmas light with their music. "Sing Merrilie!" .
Norman Rockwell's Christmas Trio (1923)
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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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