Norman Rockwell Museum is sad to learn today of the passing of Richard Clemens, who posed as the police officer in Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1958 painting, The Runaway. Having worked as a Massachusetts State Trooper, Mr. Clemens was always very generous with sharing stories about his time working as a model for his Stockbridge neighbor. In addition to The Runaway, Rockwell also painted Clemens’ portrait for a 1961 Christmas card for the Massachusetts State Police.
The Runaway endures as one of Norman Rockwell’s most admired paintings. Over the years, Clemens and Locke have both visited Norman Rockwell Museum to take part in model reunions and special talks about their experience. The painting has also resonated with police and military personnel around the world. In 2008, the models were honored by the Massachusetts State Police during a special ceremony in Framingham to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the September 28, 1958 cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post.
The original painting and study of The Runaway can currently be seen in the Norman Rockwell Museum traveling exhibition, Norman Rockwell: Beyond the Easel, on view at the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts through September 3, 2012. Visitors to Norman Rockwell Museum can also view the original tear sheet of the beloved Post cover, which is part of the Museum’s current exhibition Norman Rockwell’s 323 “Saturday Evening Post” Covers.
All of us at Norman Rockwell Museum send our sincere condolences to Dick’s family and friends. He was a great friend of Norman Rockwell Museum, and will be dearly missed.