Forgotten Book: Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers

Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers edited and text by Christopher Finch, Abbeville Press/Random House 1979 oversized hardcover (12 x 15.5 inches, over 2 inches thick), 455 pages

Blame it on George Kelley. His post last week made me go to my oversize shelves to find this book, which I then spent a couple of days reading and studying.

This 1979 edition (11 7/8″ X 15 1/4″ X 2″) is a larger book than the later 2013 edition and 455 pages vs. 400 pages. It is the cover art from the 332 Saturday Evening Post covers, not the Post covers themselves, i.e. no Post banner, no words across the art saying what was inside that particular magazine, and so on. The format has a section of thumbnails of the covers in each section, with a commentary on each, followed by the full-size, color paintings, one to a very large page. The commentaries are accurate and insightful.

The book is divided into eleven sections:

  • Overview: Norman Rockwell Portrayed Americans as Americans Chose to See Themselves
  • From the Very Beginning Norman Rockwell Had An Uncanny Knack of Knowing What the Public Wanted – Saturday Evening Post Covers May 20, 1916–June 28 1919
  • Although Still Under Thirty, Rockwell Was Rapidly Becoming The Post’s Premier Cover Artist – Saturday Evening Post Covers August 9, 1919–September 9, 1922
  • Things Were Changing Too Fast and Rockwell Gave People Nostalgic Glimpses of the World They Had Left Behind – Saturday Evening Post Covers November 4, 1922–December 5, 1925
  • Again and Again Rockwell Fell Back on Tried and Tested Themes – Saturday Evening Post Covers January 9, 1926–February 16, 1929
  • Rockwell Was One of the Lucky Few Who Was Not Much Affected by the Depression – Saturday Evening Post Covers March 9, 1929–June 17, 1933
  • Rockwell’s Work Was Becoming More Personal – Saturday Evening Post Covers August 5, 1933–February 19, 1938
  • Rockwell Was Now on the Verge of a Major Breakthrough – Saturday Evening Post Covers April 23, 1938–July 25, 1942
  • Rockwell’s Authority Was Based on the Trust of the American Public – Saturday Evening Post Covers September 5, 1942–November 16, 1946
  • During the Postwar Years Rockwell Could Hardly Pick Up a Brush Without Producing a Memorable Image – Saturday Evening Post Covers December 7, 1946–January 3, 1953
  • Rockwell’s Style Puts It’s Distinctive Mark on Everything – Saturday Evening Post Covers April 4, 1953–May 25, 1963

What the book does not include are the well known covers he painted for Look magazine, including the one of the Federal Marshalls escorting the small black girl to school. Neither does it include the Rockwell series of the Four Freedoms. But what it does include is well worth your time. Well conceived and executed, this is a must for the fan of periodical covers, the Saturday Evening Post and fans of Rockwell’s art.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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6 Responses to Forgotten Book: Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers

  1. tracybham says:

    This does look like a lovely book and one to enjoy looking through. How lucky you are to have it. I did not realize he had been doing magazine covers for so long, since 1916.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Me either. Very nice. I would love to see that book too.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    Is any attention paid to magazine covers now? Or to magazines even? I guess THE NEW YORKER is the last to treat it seriously and yet I couldn’t tell you what the cover is like on the one on my coffee table

    • Todd Mason says:

      The fiction magazines still tend to pay attention to their covers…some more than others…as they dwindle slowly on newsstands…most other magazines, including even most of the art magazines, tend to be a bit more functional…a few of the photo magazines are a bit more expansive than others, and certainly the upscale fashion magazines do their best, at times…a few of the political magazines, and TNY’s more or less direct peers HARPER’S and THE ATLANTIC and some of the younger colleagues still spread themselves at times…

  4. AMAZON has the expanded version of Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers for $75 ($29 for the paperback edition but who wants that). Older versions are going for $15, but who knows what kind of condition they’re really in. I’ll have to check my reliable sources for a copy. Looks great! And I’m glad my previous FFB inspired you to read Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers. The man was a genius and a national treasure.

  5. Todd Mason says:

    Thanks! I’ve been laboring under the misconception that the school integration painting was for THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, rather than LOOK…Cowles did a number of interesting things…

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