STOCKBRIDGE -- The Norman Rockwell Museum has acquired the art and archives from the Famous Artists School in Westport, Conn., a collection of more than 5,000 un-catalogued artworks.
The works include original pieces created by Norman Rockwell, as well as a host of other American illustrators, according to museum officials.
Museum Director and CEO Laurie Norton Moffat said the museum is proud to accept the works, which will nearly double the size of the museum's collection.
"Illustration art is a defining force in framing our history, shaping the narrative and telling America's story," she said in a prepared release.
Moffatt said the gift helps the museum "firmly place Rockwell within the arc of twentieth-century American illustration history, with its roots in 19th century European and American narrative painting."
The museum also announced the acquisition of several additional Rockwell pieces, which were donated.
The Famous Artists School was founded in 1948 by artists Albert Dorne, Rockwell and several other prominent illustrators. It became the country's most famous art correspondence school during the mid-20th century.
The school's advertisements were featured in a number of magazines and the back covers of literally hundreds of comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. The ads usually featured either Rockwell or Dorne at an easel. The headline under their pictures said, "We're looking for people who like to draw."
The intent was to create a course for artists in several disciplines, taught by nationally known artists, that would allow the students to work at their own pace.
It clearly worked: At its peak, the Famous Artists School enrolled about 40,000 artists per year from around the world.
In 1981, the school was purchased by Corina Learning International and continued the founders' commitment to providing a comprehensive correspondence art course.
In addition to several works by Rockwell, the donated collection features a treasure trove of work by iconic illustrators, according to The Associated Press. These includie Milton Caniff, creator of "Steve Canyon" and "Terry and the Pirates;" Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg; American sports cartoonist Willard Mullin; longtime comic strip illustrator Dick Cavalli, creator of "Winthrop"; and nationally renowned gag cartoonist Virgil Partch, who drew everything from syndicated comic strips to book covers to greeting cards to product labels.
Many of these artists were part-time faculty of the school.
"We extend our heartfelt thanks to the generous artists and collectors who have become the patrons of our remarkable collection, built entirely through their donations of American illustration," said Anne H. Morgan, chairman of the museum's board of trustees. "We are proud to be sharing these works locally, through traveling exhibitions and online."
The museum also announced it has acquired four Rockwell pieces.
"First Signs of Spring" was donated by Ginny Severinghaus of Nashville, Tenn. The piece, which had been on long-term loan to the museum, was originally the March 22, 1947, cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
"The Cobbler Studying Doll's Show" from the 1921 "Literary Digest" cover was donated to the museum by longtime Rockwell trustees, models and friends John and Jane Fitzpatrick.
Finally, "Fishing Trip: They'll Be Coming Back next Week" and "The Catch," two 1919 paintings created by Rockwell for "Country Gentleman" magazine, were donated by the Rodger P. Nordblom family of Boston.
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