New in 2014: paintings by Norman Rockwell

By | December 30, 2014

We’re celebrating major acquisitions of 2014. Read earlier posts about additions to the collection.

Hot Stove League

Norman Rockwell, American, 1894–1978; Hot Stove League, 1956; mixed media on canvas; 14 5/16 x 13 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Bequest of Edith J. and C.C. Johnson Spink © Brown & Bigelow, Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota 27:2014

Until this year, the Saint Louis Art Museum had a significant gap in its collection – works by Norman Rockwell. Now, thanks to a transformative bequest by the late C.C. Johnson Spink and Edith “Edie” Spink, the Art Museum is proud to have two significant paintings by the American artist.

Hot Stove League, a 1956 painting by Rockwell that shows two old men bickering about baseball while keeping warm next to a potbelly stove. The painting, which shows one man holding a newspaper and another holding a baseball magazine, likely had a special significance for the Spink family, which owned The Sporting News and related baseball publications.

This painting was created for the winter page of a Brown & Bigelow four-season calendar, of which Rockwell illustrated many. The motif of two old men and a dog may have been one of Rockwell’s most popular – the characters first appeared in a 1950 calendar, then in a 1953 calendar, and again in 1956. The alternate title of the painting is Hot Stove League is Two Old Men and Dog: Baseball Bet.

Thanksgiving, an iconic 1943 painting by Rockwell purchased from the artist by J.G. Taylor Spink and given to his son, C. C. Johnson Spink, upon his return from Coast Guard duty during World War II. The painting, which was reproduced for the November 27, 1943 cover of the Saturday Evening Post, depicts a young refugee in war-ravaged Italy giving thanks for a GI’s rations and coat.

“This sincere and sympathetic depiction of World War II subject matter not only provides the Museum with a strong example of the Rockwell’s work but also complements existing holdings of 1940s American painting and sculpture which also address martial themes,” wrote Janeen Turk, assistant curator of American art, in an acquisition proposal.

Thanksgiving is on view in Gallery 337.