Arts Everyday Living: Happy Holidays in Art—Norman Rockwell Christmas Quiz



Here’s a “rerun” of my Christmas 2014 blog!





Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell, Santa and Expense Book, December 4, 1920, Collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts


Want to take a quiz on Normal Rockwell and his Christmas legacy? Although the American artist died in 1978, we still experience December 25th through his unique imagination. Yet, as you may discover, his interpretation of the holiday evolved from pre-World War I into the 1960s, affected by the changing tempo of life in the United States and the impact on his audience.

So have fun with this quick test, and look for the answers as well as the links to the paintings at the bottom.



1. Norman Rockwell’s 323 covers for The Saturday Evening Post represent the centerpiece of his career. He began working for the publication at the age of 22 in 1916, when  it was considered the most prestigious magazine in the country. During his nearly five decade tenure, Rockwell would become the SEP’s most valued illustrator, enhancing its reputation as well as circulation.

On a regular basis, Rockwell’s SEP vision of Christmas would arrive in millions of American homes, with Santa often adorning the cover.  Do you know how many times?

A.  15          B.  8          C.  12          D.  10          E.  The exact number is not known, because some of the covers are now missing.



2.  Even Rockwell might have tired of the chief elf and toy maker, depicting instead characters on 8 covers inspired by one of his favorite authors. Who is he or she?

A.  James Fenimore Cooper     B.  Louisa May Alcott     C.  Charles Dickens     D.  Mark Twain     E.  Robert Louis Stevenson



3.  By December 23, 1944, Rockwell began to incorporate contemporary scenes and locales into his covers, such as his portrayal of a busy World War II train station, full of soldiers and their loved ones. What major city did Rockwell spotlight?

A.  New York     B.  Chicago     C.  Boston     D.  Los Angeles     E.  Philadelphia



4.  In SEP’s Christmas Homecoming cover of December 25, 1948, Norman Rockwell invites the American public to share his own family reunion.  Immortalizing his oldest son Jerry’s return from college for the holiday, welcomed by Rockwell himself, his wife, and two other boys Tommy and Peter as well as neighbors from Arlington, Vermont.  Among the group, is a special guest and fellow artist. (Note: Don’t peak at a previous blog posted a couple of years ago.)

A.  Andrew Wyeth     B.  Grandma Moses     C.  Edward Hopper     D.  Georgia O’Keeffe     E.  None of the preceding choices.



5.  Rockwell also worked steadily for a variety of advertisers, from life insurance to toothpaste to lamps.  However, he had a special relationship with what company during the Christmas season?

A.  Proctor and Gamble   B.  General Mills     C.  Borden Milk Products     D. Hallmark Cards     E.  The Hershey Company



Be sure to click on the images when you go to the links.

1D. Ten. Rockwell’s first Santa cover was commissioned the year he was hired in 1916; for whatever reason, his next portrayal of Mr. Claus was not until December 4, 1920, followed by December 2, 1922, December 6, 1924, December 4, 1926, and December 3, 1927. Do you notice how all the dates are early in the month?  Because Rockwell initially had a older competitor, J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951), whose Santas, Madonnas, and revelers dominated the actual Christmas day issues.

Finally, on December 21, 1935, Rockwell’s Santa Reading Mail had the privilege to decorate the SEP official Christmas edition, along with 3 more covers December 16, 1939, December 28, 1940 and December 26, 1942.

To compare the rival Santa Clauses of Leyendecker and Rockwell, click:

Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus


2C. Charles Dickens. Norman Rockwell never forgot the evenings whens his father would read Dickens aloud at the dining room table. I would draw pictures of the different characters, he once recalled, Mr. Pickwick, Oliver Twist, Uriah Heep.  They were pretty crude pictures, but I was deeply impressed and moved by Dickens…….*  In the 1920s and 1930s, Rockwell would reenact Dickens’s Olde English Christmas for his readers with Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, happy carolers, and joyous dancers.  Just click below for some examples,

Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit

Merrie Christmas: Couple Dancing Under Mistletoe

 Christmas Trio


3B. Chicago. Rockwell routinely based his covers on photographs taken at actual sties. Union Station, according to Rockwellwas set at the Chicago & Northwestern railroad station in Chicago at Christmastime, 1944.  Most of the people were actual travelers.  I stood on the announcer’s balcony and directed a photographer on the floor of the station.**

To view, click:

Union Station

4B. Grandma Moses. Grandma Moses or Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961) lived in Eagle Bridge, New York, only about 20 miles from Rockwell’s studio in Arlington, Vermont.  She was approaching 90 when she participated in Christmas Homecoming and would be productive for more than a decade.

Just click to see:

Christmas Homecoming


5D.  Hallmark Cards. Rockwell was employed by Hallmark to design Christmas cards from 1948 to 1957.  Christmas Dance of 1950, which can be accessed by clicking below, is a painting in itself.

Christmas Dance

 The Spirit of Christmas: Rockwell Paintings in the Hallmark Collection


*Quote is from Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People by Maureen Hart Hennessey, Anne Knutson, and Karal Ann Marling, Hight Museum of Art, The Norman Rokwell Museum, and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999, New York.

**Quote from The Norman Rockwell Album by Norman Rockwell, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1961, Garden City, New York.


The above images are used solely for educational purposes.



















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