Friday, October 07, 2016

Norman Rockwell painting of rural newspaper office is on display at his museum in Massachusetts

Norman Rockwell's evocative painting of a rural newspaper office, hidden from public view since the National Press Club realized a few years ago how valuable it was, is now on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., thanks to the anonymous buyer who paid $11.589 million for it last fall.

The painting, "Visit to a Country Editor," was sold because the NPC didn't have proper security for it, after being stored at the museum for safekeeping. Now it is home. A museum spokesman "was tight-lipped about the acquisition, revealing no clues about the buyer’s identity, how the museum recently obtained the painting or how long the piece will remain on display," the Press Club reports in its newsletter. "The display, apparently not actively publicized by the museum, was recently discovered accidentally by Club member Michael Freedman."

Freedman said, “My biggest concern was that the Rockwell would be acquired by someone overseas and would leave the country forever. Was I surprised to see it? That would be an understatement. I was surprised, astonished and thrilled! It literally took my breath away when I turned that corner.”

The illustration of the Monroe County Appeal office in Paris, Mo., appeared in the Saturday Evening Post May 25, 1946. It was inspired by Jack Blanton, left, whom an accompanying article said was probably the nation's best-known "country editor," according to University of Alabama journalism professor Bailey Thompson.

The painting shows Blanton at his typewriter as his printer looks over his shoulder. Rockwell, who included himself in the illustration, coming in the door, spent three days in Paris "detailing the operation of the paper," reported Derek Gentile of The Berkshire Eagle after interviewing a museum official.

"Blanton’s grandson, Carter, a fourth-generation newspaperman, sold the family’s share of the paper in 1992," reported Jesse Bogan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, noting that "a faded copy of the Rockwell painting" is displayed in the foyer of the Appeal, which has a print circulation of 826, far less than the 3,000 in Blanton's days, though the population of the county (Wikipedia map) has remained around 9,000. "The latest buyers of the paper have ties to the Chicago area."

No comments: