Norman Rockwell’s signature masterpiece The Song of Bernadette, one of the most reproduced works of his entire career, may take top lot honors October 26 in Heritage Auctions’ Illustration Art auction at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion in New York, which will feature the most impressive selection by the greatest names in illustration ever offered by Heritage. Rockwell’s original movie poster illustration was commissioned as the centerpiece of an unprecedented publicity campaign for the 1943 film classic starring Jennifer Jones.
“Rockwell’s full-length The Song of Bernadette is considered one of the artist’s great works and a true triumph of illustration art as fine art,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage. “As a wildly popular movie poster, it is among the most reproduced images of Rockwell’s entire career and remains so long after the movie won five Academy Awards.”
Defining works in the auction include A Child’s Prayer, a book cover painted in 1905 by the revered Jessie Willcox Smith. Smith is known mostly for her illustrations of children and A Child’s Prayer is an iconic example of her warm and tender style. The signature painting has never before been offered on the market, being held in a private collection since it was painted.
The auction will also feature Harvard Crew Team, stunning oil on canvas by J.C. Leyendecker published as an advertisement for the Howard Watch Company in 1907. The work appeared in print often in its early years, including Collier’s Magazine in 1909.
The Artist and His Model by Dean Cornwell, also never before offered at auction, is a peak period masterpiece by the popular illustrator who gained fame working in the decorative Brandywine technique. Cornwell was once a WPA muralist whose work is now highly sought after for its detailed representations of complex social settings and is seen as one of the greatest technical painters to work in the field.