Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas (Home for Christmas), 1967

Perhaps one of the most well known of Rockwell's images, Home For Christmas is one of the least characteristic of his work. Rockwell painted Main Street, Stockbridge, in 1967 to epitomize the essence of Christmas in small towns across the country. At one point Rockwell considered painting the scene in watercolor so that it would take him less time. The prospect of doing all the architectural details of the townscape, a motif in which he rarely worked, loomed over him as an intimidating prospect. In the end, Rockwell decided to paint the scene in oils but enlisted the assistance of a number of talented friends to help him with the architectural details.

In addition to photographs taken of the buildings on Main Street, Rockwell drew on a variety of references to create his snowy winter scene. For sky and mountains, Rockwell used photos of snow-draped mountains in the Berkshire Hills, Vermont, and Switzerland. Prints of Siberian winter scenes provided examples of snow-covered streets. For the warm interior glows, he studied magazine images of candlelit country homes. For clothing styles, especially women's coats, he relied on illustrations in a Sears & Roebuck catalogue. Rockwell's assistant Louie Lamone photographed each building individually, and since Rockwell painted them individually, the result is a scene that lacks perspective.

Established in 1773 as a stagecoach stop, The Red Lion Inn has always been the social hub of town. Rockwell's South Street home and studio appear at the far right border. In a window above the market, a Christmas tree glows in a room that was Rockwell's studio from 1953 to 1957. The Old Corner House, which became the home of the first Norman Rockwell Museum two years after the painting was completed, stands at the left border of the painting.

Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas (Home for Christmas), Norman Rockwell, 1967. Oil on canvas, 26½" x 95½". Story illustration for "Home for Christmas" McCall's, December 1967. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.