Stockbridge, MA Part III: Norman Rockwell Museum
Austerlitz, NY - Events of Monday July 24 to Tuesday, July 25, 2013
On Monday, we headed into Stockbridge again, this time to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. Norman Rockwell was an illustrator who is best known for the covers he created for the Saturday Evening Post. Margery has always been a big fan of Norman Rockwell, so visiting his museum was the main reason for our stop in this area.
The museum was founded in 1969 and was originally located in the town of Stockbridge. It moved to its current 36-acre site outside town overlooking the Housatonic River in 1993.
Norman Rockwell created over 4,000 paintings and illustrations in his career. Most of his works are in public collections, although a number of them were lost in a fire at his studio in 1943. The Norman Rockwell Museum has the largest single collection of his original paintings, sketches and drawings numbering close to 1,000.
Norman Rockwell realized his interest in art at an early age and transferred from high school to art school at age 14. He continued his education at several different art schools. His first major breakthrough was a commission to do book illustrations in 1912 at age 18. At 19, he was hired to illustrate several covers of Boy's Life, the magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. Rockwell published his first cover for the Saturday Evening Post in 1916. He produced over 300 original covers for the Post over 47 years.
Norman Rockwell was born in New York City. He later moved to New Rochelle, NY, and after spending a brief time in California, he returned to New Rochelle. He moved to Arlington, VT in 1939 where his paintings began to reflect small-town life. Rockwell moved to Stockbridge, MA in 1953.
Rockwell considered himself an illustrator rather than a fine artist, and he liked to tell stories with his illustrations. His sentimental style, his idealistic portrayal of American life and his use of humorous situations made his work immensely popular. The next two photos of Rockwell paintings show some examples of his humor - the child studying the doctor's medical diploma as he prepares to receive a shot and the kids carrying their clothes past the no swimming sign.
Another reason for the popularity of Rockwell's work is many people can identify with his subjects. The next example shows a family exuberantly heading off for a a day or a weekend at the lake in the top frame and looking tired and worn out in the bottom frame on the way back. We have experienced the same thing when we used to go camping for the weekend in our tent (and later in our travel trailer).
The museum has a large Rockwell painting called Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, and we recognized many of the buildings we saw just the day before. Three of those buildings were pictured in our last blog post. Click here to see them again. On the far right of the painting is the Red Lion Inn. Just to the left of center, the larger white building is the Stockbridge General Store, and to the left of that right in the center (building that is pale yellow on top and reddish on the bottom) is the Williams Country Store.
As we said, Norman Rockwell produced over 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. Examples of most, if not all of them are on exhibit at the museum. It was fun studying the covers and trying to interpret the story they were trying to tell.
Norman Rockwell worked in around 20 different studios in his lifetime. His last was located in has backyard in Stockbridge. It was moved from town to the museum grounds and is displayed with all its contents just about the way Rockwell left it.
The property the museum purchased for its new building in the early 1990s was part of the estate known as Linwood. Linwood House was the summer home of Charles Butler who was Joseph Choate's law partner and the person who introduced Choate to the Berkshires. Joseph Choate and his family were visiting the Butlers when they picnicked under the old oak tree that is on the property they ended up purchasing to build their summer home Naumkeag. Naumkeag, which we wrote about in our last post, sits directly across the valley from Linwood. Linwood House was built in 1859 and was one of the first of the Berkshire "cottages." It now houses the administrative offices for the museum.
This definitely seems to be our year for daylilies. One of the ones on the grounds of the museum caught Paul's eye. It was a peach color with a dark orange throat and with orange outlining the ruffled edges of the petals.
Lu and Larry, whom we met through our respective blogs, have an RV lot in Otis, MA where they spend their summers. We met up with Lu and Larry last fall in Summerdale, and we said we would try to get together this summer since we knew we would be going to New England. Otis is only about half an hour's drive from Stockbridge, so we made arrangements to meet Lu and Larry at 3:00 at Michael's Restaurant Stockbridge for lupper.
Michael's serves lunch from 11:30 until 4:00, after which they switch to their dinner menu. Sandwiches, wraps and burgers at Michael's range in price from about $7 to $10, lunch salads are about $8 to $12, and light dinners are $9 to $15. Lu, Margery and Paul had jumbo clam strip light dinners, and Larry had fish and chips.
The food was yummy. The restaurant wasn't crowded at the time we were there, so we lingered after our meal and chatted for quite a while. It was good to see Lu and Larry again. We eventually said our good-byes and headed back to the motor home for an evening of TV.
We spent most of Tuesday relaxing and we made a few preparations for our departure on Wednesday morning. We'll tell you where we were headed in our next post.