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The Runaway
By Norman Rockwell
Oil on paper laid down on board
Estimated price: $80,000-120,000

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) is widely considered America’s pre-eminent illustrator and one of the 20th century’s most successful mass communicators, recognised for his ability to forge a sense of national identity through his art. Rockwell produced more than 800 magazine covers and advertisements for over 150 companies during the course of seven decades of extensive technological and social change.

The Runaway is arguably the artist’s most iconic image. The scene shows a young runaway with his neatly bundled knapsack, stopped at a diner for some sustenance before his adventure, only to find himself caught up in a conversation with a friendly policeman who is earnestly asking him to reconsider his departure.

As a boy, Rockwell too had grand ideas of running away and one can assume that his own experiences inspired this painting. In discussing his career, Rockwell commented, “I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. And perhaps, therefore, this is one function of the illustrator. He can show what has become so familiar that it is no longer noticed. The illustrator thus becomes a chronicler of his time.”

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 23, 2012.