Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition

by Matthew Innis |

Artists N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Norman Rockwell are three of the most recognized narrative picture makers of the past century, yet they have often been ignored in discussions of the history of art. This exhibition will offer compelling evidence of their positions as the offspring of the European narrative tradition, direct descendants of a five hundred year long, unbroken line of teachers and students. Rockwell, Wyeth, and Parrish painted heartwarming tales, grand adventures, and elaborately conceived fantasies with the same principles and techniques of their ancestral mentors, creating iconic imagery and unforgettable narratives, defining them as true inheritors of the rich lineage of traditional Western painting. In addition to the art of these three illustration masters, original works by Fra Filippo Lippi, Jeon Leon Gérôme, Carle Van Loo, Thomas Eakins, Thomas Anschutz, Howard Pyle, Frank Vincent DuMond, and others will be featured.


Maxfield Parrish (July 25, 1870 – March 30, 1966) was an American painter and illustrator active in the first half of the 20th century. He is known for his distinctive saturated hues and idealized neo-classical imagery.

Newell Convers Wyeth (October 22, 1882 – October 19, 1945), known as N. C. Wyeth, was an American artist and illustrator. He was the pupil of artist Howard Pyle and became one of America’s greatest illustrators. During his lifetime, Wyeth created over 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books, 25 of them forScribner’s, the Scribner Classics, which is the work for which he is best known. The first of these, Treasure Island, was one of his masterpieces and the proceeds paid for his studio. Wyeth was a realist painter just as the camera and photography began to compete with his craft.[3] Sometimes seen as melodramatic, his illustrations were designed to be understood quickly. Wyeth, who was both a painter and an illustrator, understood the difference, and said in 1908, “Painting and illustration cannot be mixed—one cannot merge from one into the other.”

Norman Perceval Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was a 20th-century American author, painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over nearly five decades. Among the best-known of Rockwell’s works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter, The Problem We All Live With, Saying Grace, and the Four Freedoms series. He also is noted for his 64-year relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), during which he produced covers for their publication Boys’ Life, calendars, and other illustrations. These works include popular images that reflect the Scout Oath and Scout Law such as The Scoutmaster, A Scout is Reverent and A Guiding Hand, among many others.

Where: Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, (MA)

When: June 9 - October 28, 2018

Norman Rockwell Museum

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