The Photographs Behind Classic Norman Rockwell Paintings

Though January Jones' turn as Betty Draper certainly plays a part, few individuals can claim more of a hand in shaping Americans' perception of everyday life in the mid-20th century as Norman Rockwell. The painter's idyllic scenes often put a rosy-cheeked face on the world back then, but his work —in particular illustrations he did for The Post — could also be thought-provoking and even shocking in its day. Today we're indulging in a little nostalgia or the holidays with a look back at the photos that served as reference for some of Rockwell's most famous images.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
"After The Prom"
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
Yup, her hair really looked that fancy.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
"Moving Day," in which two families meet for the first time as integration begins in a Chicago neighborhood.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
Two models pose for the painting.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
"Little Girl Observing Lovers On A Train"
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
For most of his paintings, Rockwell worked largely from imagination or a hodgepodge of other popular images, but used a photo as reference for the main subject or focal point.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
"The Dugout" was a 1948 cover for The Post. According to the magazine's website, "at a game in Boston, Rockwell and a Post art editor strode onto the field and chose people to sit above the Cubs’ dugout. The artist would point to a spectator and contort his face into a gleeful or disgusted look asking the fan to emulate him while a photographer snapped them."
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
This guy had the unlucky task of posing as the sad little man in front.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
This one sparks the imagination on a million different possible meanings, until you learn the title: "The Runaway."
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
The cop who modeled for this painting was Richard Clemens, a Massachusetts state trooper.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
"The Problem We All Live With," originally published in Look magazine, was one of Rockwell's most talked-about works as it dared to depict black subjects in a central role rather than, as was more common in media illustrations, working in service jobs or as background figures.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
A young girl poses for the photo — though the final product is a reference to Ruby Bridges, who was on the forefront of Southern integration as one of six black students in New Orleans to pass a test permitting them to attend all-white schools.
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
"The Marriage Counselor"
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Image: Courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Museum.
As you can see, Rockwell added both the woman's smirk and the man's black eye. According to The Rockwell Center, over 70 photographic studies were made for this painting, using a variety of different models.
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