. . .children want to believe in Santa Claus just as fervently as we adults want to believe in Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. —Norman Rockwell
Many of Rockwell’s depictions of the holidays are inspired by the work of Charles Dickens, which he read as a child with his family. In addition to Christmas covers for The Saturday Evening Post and other periodicals of the day, family gatherings were forever frozen in time in the artist’s many advertisements and Hallmark greeting cards. Norman Rockwell’s Spirit of the Holidays shows how the artist’s paintings and drawings inspired feelings of warmth and good cheer for generations to come.
Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.
Born in New York City in 1894, Norman Rockwell always wanted to be an artist. At age 14, Rockwell enrolled in art classes at The New York School of Art (formerly The Chase School of Art). Two years later, in 1910, he left high school to study art at The National Academy of Design. He soon transferred to The Art Students League, where he studied with Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman. Fogarty’s instruction in illustration prepared Rockwell for his first commercial commissions. From Bridgman, Rockwell learned the technical skills on which he relied throughout his long career.
Rockwell found success early. He painted his first commission of four Christmas cards before his sixteenth birthday. While still in his teens, he was hired as art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, and began a successful freelance career illustrating a variety of young people’s publications.