STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - For those chosen few who may have an old drawing or doodle by iconic artist Norman Rockwell in the house, you may want to get it insured.
An original charcoal self-portrait by Rockwell was recently appraised at $35,000 on the popular PBS show “Antiques Roadshow.”
The episode, which ran locally on Jan. 30, was a broadcast from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the home of the famous Indianapolis 500 race.
The Rockwell drawing was one of about a dozen items previewed on that show.
In that segment, the owner of the drawing - the show never identifies the owners of the properties for “privacy reasons” - related that he purchased the portrait “in the mid-1980s.” The image is a self-portrait of Rockwell at his easel, with his pipe in his mouth, working on a drawing.
The owner said the original owner was the author of “A Rockwell Portrait: An Intimate Biography.” That would be Donald Walton, an author and businessman from Detroit, who wrote the book in 1978.
Walton was then an executive with the Franklin Mint, and over the course of several years, worked with Rockwell on the Franklin Mint plates the artist created.
Over that span, the two men came to be friends. The book is a collection of anecdotes about Rockwell by Walton.
When Walton completed the book, he sent it to Rockwell. The artist was reportedly so pleased by the effort he sent Walton the charcoal drawing for use in the book.
The owner told appraiser Debra Force of Debra Force Fine Art in New York City that he purchased the drawing directly from Walton for “less than $500.”
Force was clearly excited by the work, which she called “classic Rockwell.”
She estimated the work as being worth about $35,000. She suggested that he insure it for about $40,000.
“Wow,” said the owner, laughing. “It’s not for sale.”
Stephanie Plunkett, deputy director and chief curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, said these types of drawings are not as rare as one might think.
“Rockwell was prolific,” she said. “And he often gave drawings away. People would come to his studio just to meet him. And he would be busy and unable to stop and chat. But he would give away a picture or sometimes just a doodle.”
Plunkett said there are many local residents who have images given to them by the famed artist when he was alive.
Rockwell’s generosity is not an isolated incident. The late famed comic book and commercial artist Jack Cole, creator of legendary superhero “Plastic Man,” lived in Great Barrington from 1945-46. Several households in the area still have Cole drawings in their living rooms.
And the late Harry Lampert, the man who created the original “Flash,” in 1940, lived in Lenox for many years. Lampert was also generous with his drawings, giving away copies of the cover he drew of the first issue of “All-Flash” comics.
Information from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, https://www.berkshireeagle.com
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