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  • Executed when Norman Rockwell was just 25 years old, Vacation! (Country Gentleman) is emblematic of the light-hearted charm of the artist’s early work. While the painter graced the covers of publications like Life Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post throughout his career, Rockwell only produced paintings for Country Gentleman between 1917 to 1922. These playful covers were centered around the adventures of Chuck Peterskin, the sprightly Doolittle brothers and their bookish, metropolitan cousin, Reginald Claude Fitzhugh–all of whom were first introduced in the August 25, 1917 issue of the magazine. In Vacation!, Tubby Doolittle buoyantly leads the way, Rusty Doolittle tipping his hat with an impish grin on his face, while cousin Reginald moodily trails behind. Though Rockwell explored weightier themes in his late career–particularly during the 1960s—this piece is representative of his early works depicting children: adventurous, hopeful, and up to no good. The nuance and detail with which Rockwell renders the three boys–from Reginald’s immaculate hat to the small but conspicuous hole in Tubby’s pocket—Rockwell captures the varied glory of America’s youth in Vacation!.

     

    August 25, 1917 issue of Country Gentleman.

    Titans of American Storytelling

     

    Vacation! comes to auction from the formidable collection of storied television producers Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett, who found an affinity with Rockwell’s visual narrative. The legendary couple behind Miller-Boyett Productions developed some of the most influential and iconic sitcoms in television history—from Happy Days to Laverne & Shirley to Full House. The Rockwell pictures that Mr. Boyett and Mr. Miller, who died earlier this year, collected betray a compelling dialogue between three great American storytellers.

     

    Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett.
    Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett.

    "In each episode of our television shows, we made sure to have characters make some form of human connection. Rockwell did the very same."
    —Robert Boyett 

    • Provenance

      Mary N. Svabek (acquired before 1986)
      David Hicks (thence by descent from the above)
      Acquired by the present owner circa 1995

    • Exhibited

      Stockbridge, Norman Rockwell Museum, February 1987 (on loan)

    • Literature

      The Country Gentleman, June 21, 1919 (illustrated on the cover)
      Mary Moline, Norman Rockwell Encyclopedia: A Chronological Catalog of the Artist’s Work 1910–1978, 1979, fig. 1–24, p. 17 (illustrated)
      Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue, vol. 1, Stockbridge, 1986, no. C51, p. 21 (illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      Norman Rockwell

      Few artists have made as much of an impact on the American visual culture as Norman Rockwell. A master draughtsman and a keen observer of the quotidian, Rockwell produced an immense body of work noted for its vivid and loving depictions of the everyday graces of mid-20th century life, providing the pictorial framework for how Americans conceive of themselves then and today. His aspirational paintings lifted the American spirit during its darkest times but to this day reassure people worldwide of the fundamental values universal truths.

      Rockwell’s long and prodigious career began when he was only 22, when he contributed his first cover to The Saturday Evening Post. This precocious achievement presaged not only the artist’s immense successes contributing another 321 covers for this hugely-circulated magazine, the body of work that cemented his status as the leading chronicler of the American experience, but also his crowning as one of the most beloved American artists of all time. The many iconic images Rockwell produced and popularized are ubiquitous records of the American ethos.

       
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Property from the Collection of Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett

Ο ◆116

Vacation! (Country Gentleman)

signed "Norman Rockwell" lower right
oil on canvas
26 1/4 x 26 1/4 in. (66.7 x 66.7 cm)
Painted in 1919.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$250,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $453,600

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 24 June 2021