Normal Rockwell at Bennington Museum
Museum to Acquire Norman Rockwell Drawing−And We Need YOUR Help!
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the New York City suburbs, famed illustrator Norman Rockwell and his family bought a house in the quaint rural village of Arlington, Vermont in 1938. Not long after, he received a commission to create the cover art for a Boy Scouts of America calendar. One of the key tenets of the Boy Scouts was to prepare budding citizens to make sacrifices for the greater good, and they made a persuasive case through calendar art of scenes with no moral ambiguity. The hurricane of September 1938, which devastated Long Island and much of New England, provided the inspiration for A Scout is Helpful.
Rockwell’s new friend and real estate agent, Burt Immen, volunteered his daughter, Mary, to serve as the model for the little girl in A Scout is Helpful. When Mary arrived at Rockwell’s studio accompanied by her mother, she was dressed in her Sunday best, with her hair done up in perfectly coiffed curls. Rockwell immediately told her that she was modeling for a young girl being saved from a flood. With Mrs. Immen’s permission, Rockwell stripped Mary down into her slip, got her hair wet and tussled, and provided her with an old quilt in which to wrap herself.
Rockwell designed and developed the compositions for his images meticulously, typically developing a full-scale charcoal drawing as the final step before beginning the full-color painting in oils. His sketches often rivaled his paintings in complexity, with all of the composition being worked out before a brush ever touched canvas. This highly finished study drawing has remained in the possession of Mary’s family up to the present day, and has been on long-term loan to Bennington Museum since 2003. Last year, Mary and her husband, Joe Hall, decided it was time to sell the drawing and offered right of first refusal to Bennington Museum. Recognizing the historical and artistic significance of the work to this area, the Museum decided without hesitation to add it to the collection for permanent preservation.
That’s where YOU come in! The Museum has committed over a quarter of the purchase price already. Now we need your help to succeed in this important effort to safeguard and showcase our local history. Please consider making a gift today to ensure that A Scout is Helpful will continue to be enjoyed by Bennington County residents and visitors for generations to come.