Sunday, February 16, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 16

February 16, 1978 – “Someone stole seven Norman Rockwell paintings that were on display at Elayne Galleries in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Together, the works were valued at more than $500,000. It was the biggest and most brazen art theft in Minnesota history. The case was never solved, but the paintings were eventually recovered after turning up in the collection of an art dealer in Brazil.”1

“In 1999, the FBI recovered two of the stolen paintings, ‘She's My Baby’ and ‘A Lickin' Good Bath’ when they were left with a Philadelphia art dealer on consignment.”2

“Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) She's My Baby, Norman Rockwell, 1927. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, May 10, 1927. Norman Rockwell Museum Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William M. Young Jr. ©SEPS: Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN

On May 10, 1927, the movie She's My Baby, about a couple whose blissful marriage turns sour but is later saved, debuted. At the time, Rockwell's marriage with his first wife, Irene O'Connor was disintegrating, which may have inspired him to use the movie title for his June 4, 1927, Saturday Evening Post cover. The figures in She's My Baby belong to children but the hands and feet of the boy seem to have been posed for by Rockwell himself, suggesting identification with the boy.

Rockwell creates a variety of textures and patterns that lead the viewer's eye from the paint brush, to the heart symbol, and to the girl's face. The sheen on the girl's raincoat and curls is contrasted by the rough shoe leather and velvety hats. Along with the new coloring process used to print magazines, Rockwell was able to use color to offset the characters with complimentary shades.”3




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