Norman Rockwell Poster
Norman Rockwell Poster

“The Great American Illustrators and World War II” is the subject of a July 13 lecture by John Howard Sanden at the National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, Rhode Island.

The years 1941–1945, when the United States entered the World War both in Europe and the Pacific, placed extraordinary demands on the nation’s illustrators, and placed great opportunities before them. The illustrators rose to the occasion and responded with an outpouring of high-quality art that inspired and challenged the nation. The six prominent artists pictured below were, as might be expected, in the forefront of this effort. The great illustrators produced posters urging increased production, enlistment in the military services, and the purchase of war bonds to help underwrite the enormous costs of the war effort.

American Illustrators
Great illustrators Norman Rockwell, Dean Cornwell, J.C. Leyendecker, Howard Chandler Christy, Mead Schaeffer, Albert Dorne.

Much of the illustrative output was brilliant, and lecture-goers will be treated to a visual feast of outstanding examples. Artist J.C. Leyendecker created heroic portraits of the military leaders, including Generals MacArthur, Eisenhower, and Patton. Dean Cornwell and Mead Schaeffer created dramatic, detailed paintings of the military in action. Howard Chandler Christy created exquisitely beautiful posters urging the public to “Join the Red Cross” and “Fight or Buy Bonds.”

Lecturer John Howard Sanden

The illustrators’ effort climaxed in 1943 with the creation, by famed artist Norman Rockwell, of his immortal paintings depicting the Four Freedoms of President Roosevelt’s Atlantic Charter speech. It is said that no paintings in the world have ever been reproduced in such numbers as these four.

The lecture is presented by portrait artist and author John Howard Sanden, who has lectured twice at the Museum. The show begins at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. The National Museum of American Illustration is located at Vernon Court, the magnificent “Gilded Age” mansion at 492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. Call 401-851-8949 for reservations and further information.

The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) in Newport, RI is pleased to welcome singer/songwriter Abigail Rockwell to the NMAI’s 2019 Summer Lecture series on Saturday, July 20th, 2019, at 1:30PM. Abigail Rockwell, one of Norman Rockwell’s grandchildren, has edited the Definitive Edition of his classic Autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, published by Abbeville Press, May 2019. The book was originally written by Norman with the help of his son Tom, Abigail’s father, and published in 1960. The book is regarded as the best account of Rockwell’s personal life and artistic career, spanning from his childhood through to the height of his successful career with the Saturday Evening Post.

NMAI is also pleased to welcome framer and art restorer Geoff Gaunt to the NMAI’s third and final 2019 Summer Lecture series event on Saturday, July 27th, 2019, at 1:30PM. Geoff Gaunt will discuss the many facets of art framing, providing a general overview as well as the specific considerations involved in framing illustrations. He will also provide insight into the art conservation process, focusing on illustration art, but also discussing broad conservation principles that apply to most artworks of value.

These lectures are open to the public and there is no additional charge beyond the standard cost of Museum admission. Seating is limited; please RSVP for lectures by calling (401) 851–8949 ext. 18 or emailing [email protected].

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  1. I’d like to see a nod given to the 100 plus combat artists and individuals like Robert Noel Blair who was not a member of that group but persisted in carrying his artist’s passion into the fight as a member of the 82nd Air born. The National Gallery had an exhibit of his work in 1985, the Burchfield Penny Art Center at SUNY Buffalo has 125 of these battlefield works and has mounted two recent exhibits of them. His work can be seen on line at US Army Center of Military History, Battle of the Bulge, Artwork and Photography There’s a through wikipedia entry on him too.

    • Thank you Glenn for acknowledging Robert Noel Blair for his work during World War II. I saw his work at the Burchfield Penny Art Center and marvel at his work in the battlefield.

    • Hello! Please contact the organizers directly to find out more about the availability of this lecture. Thank you!

  2. Will this lecture be videotaped and available later to those of us who cannot attend? That would be of great value. These illustrators were and are great teachers of illustration and art in general to this day.


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