The enthusiastic stewards of the world’s largest, most significant collection of original artworks by Norman Rockwell, the Norman Rockwell Museum is also fortunate to hold a growing collection of illustration art highlighting the contributions of historic and contemporary masters. Many important artworks have come to us through the generosity of caring donors who seek to find an appropriate home for their treasured collections. This is the first among several upcoming posts sharing stories of the art that have been entrusted to us, and the individuals whose passion has, most fortunately, led them to our door.
Recently, internationally renowned portrait artist Everett Raymond Kinstler invited us to his light-filled studio in southern New England to pick up the latest of his extraordinary gifts to the Museum’s permanent collection. These stellar Golden Age illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson, seen here, and James Montgomery Flagg, a close friend of the artist, are significant additions, the best possible representative works by America’s top illustrators during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
A master draughtsman and an astute humorist, Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944) was the creator of the Gibson Girl, the confident, refined beauty who graced the pages of our nation’s most popular magazines, inspiring millions to emulate her style and presence. This outstanding work, one of the great Gibson illustrations, has been in Mr. Kinstler’s collection for forty years. Look carefuly at Gibson’s inscription, which dedicates the piece to the great James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). Widely published and admired, Flagg’s art was the gold standard for many, including aspiring illustrator Everett Raymond Kinstler, who in his youth, sought Flagg out hoping to learn all that he could from a true master. With thanks to Mr. Kinstler, the Norman Rockwell Museum is also fortunate to own his heartfelt personal remembrance of his friend and mentor, a very fine portait painted from memory after Flagg’s death.
During the past forty years, Everett Raymond Kinstler has painted official White House portrtaits of two presidents, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, likenesses of Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and cabinet members from every administration since that of John F. Kennedy. His painting of John Wayne is considered by many to be the actor’s definitive portrayal, and Carol Burnette, Tony Bennett, Tom Wolfe, Katharine Hepburn, James Cagney, James Montgomery Flagg, and many others famous American’s have been immortalized in his art. Recently, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery installed Mr. Kinstler’s life-size portrait of baseball legend Tommy Lasorda, the Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. We are grateful to Everett Raymond Kinstler for sharing his own art, and the art of those who inspired him, with the Norman Rockwell Museum. He has learned their lessons well, and we look forward to preserving and presenting these important works for many years to come.