Today, the Boy Scouts of America celebrate the life and works of Norman Rockwell, legendary 20th century painter and illustrator.
Born on February 3, 1894, Rockwell’s lifetime achievements have gained national acclaim for his artistic contributions to American culture and the Boy Scouts of America. Rockwell’s 64-year relationship with the BSA resulted in several Boys’ Life covers, calendars, paintings, illustrations and other popular images that reflect the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
Rockwell began his career in 1912 as a staff artist for Boys’ Life magazine. Receiving fifty dollars as monthly compensation for a completed cover and set of story illustrations, this was the young artist’s first paying job.
Less than a year later, the 19 year old was promoted to art editor of Boys’ Life. His new managerial position required him to supervise work delegated to other artists, in addition to creating his own imagery for the periodical. Rockwell held the position for three years and painted several of the publication’s covers, including his first published cover in the September 1913 edition, Scout at Ship’s Wheel.
With an impressive portfolio at Boys’ Life, Rockwell was recognized by outside publishers and took a position to compose illustrations for children’s books and other magazines. Rockwell left his salaried position at Boys’ Life when his tenure began with The Saturday Evening Post but he continued to include Scouts in Post cover images and the monthly magazine of the American Red Cross. Ten years later, he resumed work with the Boy Scouts with the production of his first of fifty-one original images for the official Boy Scouts of America annual calendar.
At eighty-two, Rockwell completed his final commissioned artwork for the Boy Scouts, a calendar illustration titled, The Spirit of ’76. During his 64-year partnership with the BSA, Rockwell generated 471 images for periodicals, guidebooks, calendars, and promotional materials. This life-long relationship marks the artist’s longest professional association.
In 1978, Rockwell passed away in his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but his legacy lives on. Like many brilliant artists, Norman Rockwell’s artwork did not initially garner the praise or appreciation that it does today. The National Scouting Museum is proud to house an extensive collection of his pieces that are admired by thousands each year.
For a closer look at Norman Rockwell’s lifetime achievements, stop by the National Scouting Museum to see dozens of his original works and read more about his remarkable contributions to the Boy Scouts of America.