The Norman Rockwell Boy Scout paintings portray the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). They are an iconic look at Scouting throughout the years. Who was Norman Rockwell and what was his relationship with the Boy Scouts?
Who was Norman Rockwell?
Norman Rockwell was an American painter and illustrator born in 1894. From an early age, Rockwell wanted to be an artist. When he was 14. he enrolled in the Chase Art School where he studied for two years.
He studied at two additional art schools-- The National Academy of Design and The Art Students League.
Rockwell's early works were published in several youth publications. His first salaried job was as a staff artist for Boys' Life magazine. In 1916, Rockwell left his job with the BSA and began his involvement with The Saturday Evening Post. Over 300 of Rockwell's paintings would be featured on the cover of the Post during his 50 year involvement with the publication. After leaving thee Post, Rockwell began a ten year career with Look magazine. Throughout his career, he produced more than 4,000 works.
Rockwell's Work with Boys' Life Magazine
In 1912, Rockwell was hired as a staff artist for Boys' Life magazine. In this role, he completed one cover and a set of story illustrations every month. His salary was $50 per month. His first assignment there was creating pen and ink drawings for BSA's Hike Book.
Rockwell was promoted to be the magazine's art director the next year when he was only 19. From the time he was hired until he left, Rockwell painted 14 covers for Boys' Life. After his departure, Rockwell included Scouts in his works for The Saturday Evening Post and the American Red Cross' monthly magazine.
Of his time with Boys' Life, Rockwell said, "My experience on Boys' Life helped me build some confidence in myself at a time when I needed courage--needed to believe in myself."
Boy Scouts of America's Annual Calendar
Ten years after he left the Boy Scouts of America, Rockwell resumed his work for the Boy Scouts. He began creating original illustrations that were used on the Boy Scouts of America official annual calendar published by Brown & Bigelow. The first appeared in 1925. By 1929, these calendars were the most popular in America and continued to be for many years.
Norman Rockwell Boy Scout paintings appeared on 51 calendars from 1925 through 1976. When he was 82, Rockwell completed his last work for the Boy Scouts of America, The Spirit of ’76. Over the 64 year partnership, Rockwell created 471 images that were used in the calendars and in periodicals, guidebooks, and promotional materials.
Silver Buffalo Award
In 1938, Norman Rockwell received the BSA's Silver Buffalo Award. Since its introduction in 1926, only 754 people have received this prestigious award.
The Silver Buffalo Award, created in 1925, is bestowed upon those who give truly noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth. This award, Scouting’s highest commendation, recognizes the invaluable contributions that outstanding American men and women render to youth. The service must be national in character and may or may not be directly connected with the BSA.
Where to See Norman Rockwell Boy Scout Paintings
Norman Rockwell Boy Scout paintings used as Boys' Life covers can be seen at the Boys' Life website. The National Scouting Museum has works on display.
The Norman Rockwell Museum has over 3,500 images related to Boy Scouts in its digital collection. These include many reference photos.