Published: August 18, 2015
NEWPORT, R.I. — The National Museum of American Illustration celebrated its 15th anniversary on July 30 with a fundraising gala and benefit auction.
The highlight of the evening sale was Norman Rockwell’s “Portrait of President John F. Kennedy.” It sold for $900,000 at a live auction before the 330 guests. This is the second of two portraits Rockwell painted of John F. Kennedy. The first appeared during the 1960 Presidential campaign, the second in 1963, months after the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis and just prior to Kennedy’s death. Rockwell captures the somber mood of a president confronting pressing world events.
John Falter’s baseball image “Game Not Called on Account of Darkness” hit $55,000. Rendered in grisaille in 1961, it was printed as an advertisement for Electric Light and Power Companies.
Another favorite was the J.C. Leyendecker study of a young girl holding her doll. Leyendecker executed it in preparation for a July 19, 1913, cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Leyendecker painted 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post from 1899 to 1943. This 1913 study of the young girl with doll nestled in her arm is nearly identical to the final version. The study sold for $14,000.
Many other artworks were featured in a silent auction conducted throughout the evening.
A favorite was Falter’s painting of himself and his wife splashing in the Maine surf. It fetched $25,000.
A study by Ludwig Bemelmans for his beloved Madeline series garnered $5,000.
Presiding over the evening, museum founders Judy Goffman Cutler and Laurence S. Cutler presented American Civilization Awards to three individuals who have distinguished themselves in public life. Known for their contributions to American popular culture, this year’s honorees included Matt Lauer, for his NBC broadcasting journalism; Evangeline Lilly, for her acting, including her appearance in the new hit movie Ant-Man, and for her writing of children’s books, among them The Squickerwonkers; and Paul Szep, for his Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoons. The careers of all three laureates parallel those of the Golden Age illustrators highlighted in the museum’s collection.
From Shanghai and Prague, New York and Boston, guests traveled from far and near to attend the gala.
Judy Cutler, director of the National Museum of American Illustration, said, “We are thrilled with the outpouring of support we have received through this event and are particularly grateful for the auction’s success. The funds raised will help the NMAI’s endowment fund to ensure this wonderful collection remains on display at Vernon Court.”
Each guest left with a copy of the NMAI’s newest publication, Norman Rockwell And His Contemporaries. This exhibition catalog explores the thematic similarities of more than 100 great American illustrators.
The NMAI is a nonprofit, independent educational organization located at 492 Bellevue Avenue. It is the first national museum devoted exclusively to illustration art, works created to be reproduced in books, periodicals, art prints, posters and advertisements.
For additional information, www.americanillustration.org or 401-851-8949.
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