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editorial

Norman Rockwell: America’s sentimental realist

It was a deeply moving scene in Arlington, Vt., as elderly neighbors who, as children, posed for some of Norman Rockwell’s iconic images of small-town life gathered for a reunion late last month. From Boy Scouts taking oaths to soldiers coming home to schoolkids being disciplined for quarreling, Rockwell’s warm vision, expressed over hundreds of Saturday Evening Post covers, defined Americana in the mid-20th century.

The boys and girls, now in their 70s and 80s, who modeled for the paintings were part of Rockwell’s middle career. Fertile as it was, this is also the period that Rockwell’s detractors point to when accusing him of a kind of genial repression — of seeing only the charm, innocence, and good intentions of rural America while blotting out evidence to the contrary.

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