NORMAN ROCKWELL | They Remembered Me!
23.5 x 19 cms / 9¼" x 7½"
Pencil Drawing on Paper
This joyous, rapidly executed sketch depicts Private Sammie Smith, a fresh-faced American soldier in the First World War holding up gifts sent from his family during the bitter cold Christmas of 1917. He is ecstatic with his gifts. He has prised open the crate to reveal an assortment of gifts; a baseball, a pair of boxing gloves, two books, cigarettes and a tin of pipe tobacco. In his hands he holds up the two most cherished presents, a scarf and warm socks, an indication of the bleak reality of the war time conditions hidden behind the Private’s gleaming smile.
This charming drawing is the preparatory sketch for Rockwell’s iconic World War I painting They Remembered Me! which was reproduced on the cover of ‘Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper’ on 22nd December 1917. The newspaper vividly depicted American life during the seven decades that it was published between 1855 to 1922. Often taking a strongly patriotic stance, it frequently featuring cover illustrations of soldiers and heroic battle stories. Several notable illustrators worked for the publication, including Rockwell who painted six covers for the newspaper between 1916 and 1919.
Throughout Rockwell’s career, the theme of patriotism is consistently present in his paintings and illustrations. During the First World War Rockwell was ineligible for active duty and therefore served in the United States Naval Reserve for a short period of time. In addition to producing illustrations for the Navy, Rockwell’s support for the war is evident in each magazine cover he created of American servicemen.
As America's preeminent illustrator, Rockwell was one of the greatest mass communicators of the twentieth century. Painting a sweeping range of topics during a century of extensive technological and social change, he helped forge a sense of national identity through his art. In doing so, Rockwell became as ubiquitous to the American public as the images he created.
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