Portrait of John F. Kennedy, 1960

Rockwell's portrait of President John F. Kennedy first appeared on the cover of the Post in 1960. The illustration would also mark the end of Rockwell's association with the Post, when it was republished on the magazine's cover in December 1963, as a memorial following Kennedy's assassination in November of the same year. In the early 1960s, having lost audience and advertisers to television, the Post attempted to capture readers from Life and Look by using portraits and photographs on their covers, and Rockwell was assigned to paint political figures and celebrities. Rockwell was sent to India, Cairo, and Yugoslavia to do portraits of Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, and Josip Broz-Tito. Then in June 1963, he wrote to the Post stating new conditions for his assignments and concerns for his health that would limit his future work. According to his son Tom, "this was Pop's way of breaking-without-quite-breaking with the Post." There also were problems with some of the Post's new staff. The art editor spent a day in Rockwell's studio trying to tell him how to do the brushstrokes in his 1963 Jackie Kennedy portrait, and managing editor Matthew J. Culligan asked him to illustrate the Bible, a project he did not want to do. Rockwell had been approached by McCall's and Look, and he grabbed the opportunity. In 1971, when, after a brief hiatus, the Post resumed publishing under new ownership, the new editors asked Rockwell to work for them once again. When he wavered, his wife Molly interceded saying, "Norman, you mustn't!"

Portrait of John F. Kennedy, Norman Rockwell. 1960 Oil on canvas, 16" x 12". Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, November 5, 1960. Republished on December 14, 1963. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.