Today selection, ‘The Homecoming’ by popular American artist Norman Rockwell, is an illustration used for the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post,” May 26, 1945. Featured toward the end of World War II, this piece’s historical significance is obvious. As with many works by Rockwell, ‘Homecoming’ has a strong narrative and creates an environment rich with detail. I love the observations throughout this piece—the clothesline with various garments, the man repairing the roof of that rickety porch, the children hanging in the trees, the weather-beaten bricks of the building, ect. This scene feels as real to me as any that I might encounter on the street.
In addition to those details, I also enjoy the expressions of emotion by the mother, neighborhood children, and other people throughout the scene as the soldier returns home. Even the dog is excited to see him. You’ll also notice a young woman, presumably his girlfriend or an admirer, hidden from the others behind the corner of the building, adding a curious drama to this “homecoming.” Perhaps she is not on good terms with his family, or maybe she’s simply avoiding the big hurrah, preferring to give him a more personal welcome home after the dust has settled.
In his time Rockwell achieved much commercial success, and he continues to be one of the 20th Century’s most popular and recognizable artists, though his work was and is still often dismissed by art critics, probably because they appeal to sentiments which could be described as light-hearted and All-American. That’s a shame because whether or not you find those qualities admirable, there’s still so much which can be appreciated in Rockwell’s extensive catalogues of beautiful paintings and illustration work.
Details behind the cut.