Norman Rockwell “Portrait of a Pilot” Oil

Value (2013) | $75,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
John was a pilot for Pan Am out of New York in the '50s, and he loved art and he loved to meet his people that were on the planes. In those days, they could.

APPRAISER:
Wow.

GUEST:
So he came out and looked at the roster and saw the name of Norman Rockwell-- and he was delighted-- with his wife, making a trip around the world.

APPRAISER:
And what year was this?

GUEST:
'55, I think. They had a nice visit. Norman Rockwell was a very homey man, very easy to talk to. John really enjoyed him. And when Mr. Rockwell got called into the office of Pan Am later to do a series of paintings, Mr. Rockwell was asked how he wanted to put this ad together. He says he wanted to use a captain. That's how he was chosen, by Rockwell himself.

APPRAISER:
Wow, that's a wonderful story, and he was quite a handsome man for sure and a great model.

GUEST:
Naturally, I would agree. (laughs)

APPRAISER:
Normal Rockwell is one of the best known, if not the best known, American illustrators. He was a chronicler of the times, of people's lives, but of course advertising was one of his biggest areas, and so he would do ads for various companies. Now, he was born in 1894 in New York, but he was very inspired by a group of illustrators who were a bit earlier than he was: Maxfield Parrish, who's well known, Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, who were from the Brandywine school. When he was very young, he started illustrating Christmas cards and he did his first Saturday Evening Post cover when he was 22 years old.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:
And over the years, he actually had over 320 Saturday Evening Post covers. The painting itself is on canvas and it appears to be in good condition-- it has not been lined. But I think over the years, it's yellowed. So you see all of this yellowness on the surface.

GUEST:
I was afraid that I couldn't find the right person to clean it and repair it, so I know it does need a good cleaning. His first wife smoked.

APPRAISER:
Well, then that explains it. It's clear that you've taken good care of it. Now, have you ever had this valued or appraised?

GUEST:
No, no. I did have an interesting visit with Thomas Kinkade, another painter, that offered to buy it.

APPRAISER:
How much did he offer for it at the time? Well, I felt it was a little low. He turned it over to his management in his office, and they submitted a bid of only $20,000.

APPRAISER:
I see.

GUEST:
I wasn't ready to part with it.

APPRAISER:
And what year was that?

GUEST:
Within the last five years.

APPRAISER:
Oh, I see, okay. I think also, you have some letters from Norman Rockwell, and does he discuss what he charged for doing portraits like this?

GUEST:
They discussed insurance value.

APPRAISER:
I see, okay.

GUEST:
At that time, Norman's letter says that he charged $5,000 for a portrait. My husband said that he had insured it for $8,000, so Mr. Rockwell's letter says, "Well, I'm very happy that you did that. That was a good compliment to me." That's how humble he was.

APPRAISER:
Yes. Well, Norman Rockwell's work is extremely popular. There have been several at auction recently that have made record prices. Generally in his work, the ones that do realize the most sums are more fully developed paintings. I would say that if this were to be sold in a gallery at the present time, it would sell in the range of $75,000.

GUEST:
Oh, goodness! I'm so happy!

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.
New York, New York
Appraised value (2013)
$75,000 Retail
Event
Anaheim, CA (June 22, 2013)
Period
20th Century
Form
Portrait
Material
Oil

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