Seventy-four

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The Gossip

1948 by Norman Rockwell
The Curtis Publishing Company, USA

The importance of artistic illustration within historical periodicals was evident in Vanity Fair’s cover (postcard seventy-one) and perhaps no artist demonstrates this better than Norman Rockwell. Known for his illustrative manner, Rockwell was employed for over four decades by American magazine The Saturday Evening Post. Merging the boundaries of painting and illustration, he also frequently sold works of art and his style between the two differed little. The Gossip is a manipulation of Rockwell’s talent of facial expression and personality; despite only revealing the head, he is able to perfectly create the persona of each and every one of his conjured figures. So expressive is each face, one can completely imagine the rest of the body; such attention to detail is paid that each figure is given a token item of dress — a hat, glasses — each reflecting of character. We are also allowed the hands, consistently betraying conversation as they exclaim throughout the chain of Chinese whispers that ends amusingly right where it started. As with much of Rockwell’s art, The Gossip illustrates a recognisable aspect of life; humorous and identifiable, we immediately connect with the image, as it invites us into the gossip-filled pages of the magazine.

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