In anticipation of our newest exhibition, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic, opening Saturday, June 8, here is a portion of an essay in our latest Portfolio magazine by Norman Rockwell Museum Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett, explaining the connection and lasting friendship between two of the greatest visual storytellers of the 20th century: 

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”―Walt Disney

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), "Girl Reading the Post," 1941. Oil on canvas, 35 1/4" x 27 1/4". Cover illustration for "The Saturday Evening Post," March 1, 1941. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections, gift of the Walt Disney Family, 1999. ©SEPS: Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Girl Reading the Post,” 1941. Oil on canvas, 35 1/4″ x 27 1/4″. Cover illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” March 1, 1941. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections, gift of the Walt Disney Family, 1999. ©SEPS: Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN.

Though they worked in distinctly different realms, Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell regarded each other highly. They were personally acquainted, corresponded regularly, and traded gifts of art and memorabilia. Girl Reading the Post, an original cover illustration for March 1, 1941 issue of The Saturday Evening Post stands as a token of their respect and friendship. In 1943, during a stay in Alhambra, California, his wife Mary’s home town, Rockwell gave Disney the painting, inscribing the work, “To Walt Disney, one of the really great artists, from an admirer, Norman Rockwell.”Upon receipt of Girl Reading the Post, Disney penned his appreciation, saying “I can’t begin to thank you … my entire staff have been traipsing up to my office to look at it … to all of them, you are some sort of god.”  To further express his thanks, Disney sent Rockwell a set of ceramic figurines featuring characters from Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia.

For years, Girl Reading the Post hung in Disney’s offices, and later, in the home of his daughter, Diane Disney Miller, who was herself a Rockwell model. When Diane was about ten years old, she and her late sister Sharon sat for beautifully-rendered Rockwell portraits. Many years later, she generously donated Girl Reading the Post to the Norman Rockwell Museum, and since then, the painting has been a favorite both here in Stockbridge and while on national tour in American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. Our appreciation for this incredible gift is as boundless as the esteem that generations Americans have had for her father’s work.

Don’t miss Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic, opening Saturday, June 8. A small exhibition of correspondence between Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, from the Norman Rockwell Museum archives, will accompany the exhibition.

RSVP for our Enchanted Evening Gala by Friday, May 31. Learn more here.

 

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