Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 30, 2018

PREVIEW: “Keepers of the Flame” Exhibit

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
exhibit through October 28, 2018

Walking through four galleries on the first floor of the Norman Rockwell Museum (NRM) provides a look at 20th century artists whose works carry a common thread or design. Commonality, whether taught professionally, by happenstance, or by observation, has created masterful artists throughout the centuries. Visitors see the artist’s teacher’s teacher.

“Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth,  Rockwell, and the Narrative Tradition” graces the 16 or so walls and pathways in connecting rooms. One of the shared and important denominators between Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966), N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) and Norman Rockwell (1884-1978) is their skill at storytelling. With more than 60 works by 25 American and European painters, the exhibit reveals the lineage of American illustration to some 500 years of European painting through the long line of teaches who have passed along their wisdom, knowledge, and techniques to generations of creators. 

To paraphrase NRM Director Laurie Norton Moffat, “European painters have tutored American artists across the ocean. The exhibit provides a unique view of a particular line of picture-making, demonstrating the importance of the connections of American illustrators to the Western tradition.”

“Keepers of the Flame” displays the talents of some of the most recognized narrative-picture makers of the past century – to their artistic forbears reaching back to the Italian Renaissance. It shows how these three men, all of whom painted with the same principals and techniques as their artistic ancestors, produced what would prove to be iconic imagery and unforgettable narratives that defined them as keepers of the flame of traditional Western painting.

N. C. Wyeth (American, 1882-1945) The Scythers, 1906 Oil on canvas, 96.72 x 68.58 cm The University of Arizona Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samu