1894-1978 | American
Couple’s 25th Wedding Anniversary
Signed “Norman Rockwell” (center left)
Oil on canvas
Combining Norman Rockwell’s remarkable talents for narrative and nostalgia, this oil on canvas by the great American illustrator was created as an advertisement to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Dodge Brothers Motor Cars. Depicting an elderly couple on a starlit drive, this delightful oil on canvas represents one of very few works in which the artist used his own parents as models. The painting boasts extraordinary detail and narrative clarity, and it is heartwarmingly Rockwellian in all aspects.
Rockwell chooses to represent Dodge Brothers’ anniversary with a piece of his own family’s legacy; the artist’s parents posed as models for the subjects, who have purchased a Dodge to celebrate their own 25th anniversary. They drive, top-down under the stars, on a deserted country road, a look of contentment on both of their faces. In the bottom left corner, Rockwell includes a scene in miniature envisioning the couple on their wedding day 25 years earlier riding in a horse and buggy, highlighting the modern convenience of their new automobile. A consummate storyteller, Rockwell is able to pull the viewer into this scene and touch their emotions with these thoughtful narrative details executed in his highly distinctive visual language.
Rockwell tapped into the nostalgia of the American people, and his ability to create visual stories that expressed the desires of a nation helped to clarify and, in a sense, create that nation’s vision. While history was in the making all around him, Rockwell chose to fill his canvases with the small details and nuances of ordinary people in everyday life. Taken together, his many paintings capture the essence of the American spirit. “I paint life as I would like it to be,” Rockwell once said. Mythical, idealistic and innocent, his paintings evoke a longing for a time and place that existed in his rich imagination and in the hopes and aspirations of the nation.
Norman Rockwell led a very long and incredibly successful career as an artist. His first commission was painted when he was only 16 years old, and his irresistible paintings of American life made him the foremost American illustrator of the 20th century. While history was in the making all around him, Rockwell chose to fill his canvases with the small details and nuances of ordinary people in everyday life. His distinguished career earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, the highest honor bestowed upon an American civilian.
This work is pictured in Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Volume II, by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Canvas: 25" high x 45" wide
Frame: 32 1/8" high x 53 1/8" wide
Dodge Brothers, Detroit, Michigan, 1925 (commissioned from the artist)
Mr. Robert C. Graham, Detroit, Michigan, circa 1926
Private collection, Florida, 1940
M.S. Rau, New Orleans