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1894-1978 • American
Norman Rockwell painted The Buggy Ride during one of the most prolific yet transitional points in his career. His Saturday Evening Post covers and national advertisements had transformed him into a celebrity. Other publications were vying for his talent, going so far as to offer him twice what the Post paid, yet he remained loyal to the publication that brought him recognition. The "Roaring 20s" brought changes in nearly every facet of American life, including art. Rockwell began receiving much pressure to abandon his unique sentimentality for more humor. Thankfully, Rockwell kept the nostalgic element that makes his paintings so beloved. He did, however, begin to change his perspective on the subjects he chose, as seen in the current work, The Buggy Ride. In this heartwarming painting, Rockwell evokes the fond memories of young love, as this couple enjoys an evening ride and each other’s companionship. Such sentimental works continue to remind all who view them of the simpler times that are all-soon forgotten with the onset of adulthood.
It was Rockwell’s gift for composing these charming and universally nostalgic scenes that struck a cord with America like no other paintings before, or since. Norman Rockwell led a very long and incredibly successful career as an artist. His first commission was painted when he was only 16 and his irresistible paintings of American life made him the American illustrator of the 20th century. Rockwell said himself, “Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.” Painting poignant pictures that graced the covers of Literary Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Country Gentleman, and Look magazines, Rockwell's distinguished career earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, the highest honor bestowed upon an American civilian.