In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: Norman Rockwell, “Easter (Soldier Watering Tulip).”
Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) is remembered as perhaps the greatest painter and illustrator of American wartime culture, and his works are, without a doubt, some of the most coveted and highly collected artworks today. Born in New York, Rockwell pursued an art career early. His passion and talent were even noticed by age 15, when he painted his first commission of four Christmas cards. Still in his teens, Rockwell landed his first major commissions from Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. At age 22, Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, which would become the artist’s launch pad to national acclaim and success. Over the next 47 years, Rockwell would paint an additional 321 covers for the Post, part of more than 4,000 original works during his lifetime, cementing his place in history and in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans.
Still enjoying widespread popular appeal, Rockwell’s style was characterized by idealistic and sentimentalized portrayals of American life and culture. This was especially true during the end of World War I and throughout World War II. As part of the effort to mobilize America for the war effort, Rockwell turned his artistic lens away from the youthful subjects seen in his illustrations for Boys’ Life and toward inspiring subjects.
Unfortunately, many of Rockwell’s original works belong to public and private collections or have been destroyed. Rarely do originals head to auction, but, when the occasion presents itself, prices are expected to soar. That’s what Dallas Auction Gallery is expecting during its November 4 “Fine Art Auction” when Rockwell’s “Easter (Soldier Watering Tulip)” becomes available. An early work, dating to 1918, the painting is a rare example from Rockwell’s work with Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly and was produced during the waning months of the First World War, even as it seemed the conflict might never end.
The painting is absolutely exceptional, packed with powerful symbols of war, peace, and hope. Kneeling and in full combat gear, an American soldier gracefully pours water from his helmet onto a group of brilliant yellow tulips. The flowers emerge from a pile of debris and rubbish, complete with broken wood, rubble, and a large mortar shell to the right. Set against a strong white background, the saturated colors are in high contrast with their surroundings, drawing even more focus on the subject. As telling are the glowing red highlights that blanket the right side of the figure, perhaps setting the figure near the front lines, the glow emitting from the flash of exploding ammunition.
Dallas Auction Gallery offers, “‘Easter (Soldier Watering a Tulip)’ conveyed a touch of hope, that even though our husbands, sons, and fathers were off fighting a war, they were still able to find the simple beauties and small moments of peace in life.” Auction estimates are between $300,000 and $500,000, but the hammer price could exceed $1 million.
To view the entire catalogue, visit Dallas Auction Gallery.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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