Norman Rockwell (1894–1978)
Going and Coming, 1947
Painting for The Saturday Evening Post cover, August 30, 1947
Oil on canvas: upper canvas, 16 x 31.5 inches; lower canvas, 16 x 31.5 inches
Norman Rockwell Museum Collection, NRACT.1973.9
Norman Rockwell’s Post covers were often of seasonal or topical subjects. This was especially true after the 1943 studio fire that destroyed his collection of historical costumes. Not only was a magazine cover intended to be a story that was easily “read” and understood, it was often intended to be relevant to the daily life of the reader.
Going and Coming, published in August 1947, is a good example of a story painting that is both seasonal and topical. The added ingredient of humor makes it even more engaging and thus contributes to its success. The use of two images within one picture allows Rockwell to be more detailed and create a continuum of time. We see the before and the after of the imagined event, a family’s summer outing by the lake. Clues abound for the reader’s enjoyment in unraveling the story line.
The use of a split canvas to portray a juxtaposition of an event, time, age, or place is an effective device that invites comparison of the two scenes. This technique is employed by Rockwell in only two other Post covers, but was commonly used by other Post cover illustrators. The approach likely derives from the comic strip’s popular use of a series of “frames” to tell a story.
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