Liberty Bell (Celebration), 1976

The U.S. bicentennial was celebrated in a variety of ways in 1976, all distinctly American. American Artist magazine chose Norman Rockwell, the quintessential American artist, to paint the cover illustration for its July 1976 issue. In an accompanying article, Editor Susan E. Meyer wrote that "it seemed fitting that America's favorite art magazine should commission America's favorite painter to celebrate the occasion of the nation's 200th birthday."

The painting, done when Rockwell was 82, was his last magazine cover illustration. It depicts the artist and another American symbol, the Liberty Bell. Rockwell's concept was simple: the artist and his paint box, the bell, and a celebrative red happy birthday banner. The painting focuses on the essence of the bicentennial celebration, as Americans took time away from their responsibilities to celebrate American life, freedoms, and values with their country and each other.

Liberty Bell was Rockwell's second cover illustration for American Artist (the first appeared in 1964). Rockwell himself appeared on the cover in 1940, shortly after the magazine was founded.

Liberty Bell (Celebration), Norman Rockwell, 1976. Oil on canvas, 45" x 33". Cover illustration for American Artist, July 1976. Collection of Billboard Publications.