Judge, one of the great American magazines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was renowned for many things: its wit, its politics, its immense circulation and its role as a launching pad for once-editor Harold Ross The New Yorker. But the satirical publication is perhaps best known for its stable of pioneering illustrators, among them Buster Brown creator Richard Outcault and James Montgomery Flagg, designer of the Uncle Sam I Want YOU for U.S. Army recruitment poster. It was also known for using one of Norman Rockwells earliest canvases. Indeed, Judge was high on the list of publications to which the illustrator would take his works during his ascendancy as one of Americas most cherished artists.
Rockwell's First Cover For Judge Magazine Comes To Auction After More Than A Century
1917 Painting Is Centerpiece Of Heritage Auctions May 7 American Art Sale
Some of Rockwells most famous and coveted early-days pieces came from Judge, for which he made only six covers, among them A Trench Spade (Soldiers Playing Cards) and Stolen Goods, both from 1918. Excuse Me!, a centerpiece of Heritage Auctions Friday, May 7, American Art Signature Auction event, is another such work, as well as Rockwells very first cover for Judge, appearing on the front of the July 7, 1917, issue.
Thats only appropriate, as in this rich, playful piece a young woman in pink ruffles declares her independence from one man to link arms with another, a soldier seemingly giddy at his good fortune.
It embodies all the hallmarks one loves to see in a great Rockwell masterwork, says Aviva Lehmann, Heritages New York-based director of American Art. There is an engaging and timeless story being told, executed in Rockwells unmatched painting style. Above all else, Rockwell is one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century.
This original work, also known as Soldier Escorting Woman, was first sold at a Liberty War Bonds auction during World War I. From there it found its way into private collections. It has not been to auction in more than a century. The work is expected to sell in excess of $400,000.
This work showcases one of Rockwells earliest renderings of the American soldier, an image with which he would become associated. Its as stunning as it is significant. As Lehmann noted one recent afternoon while standing in front of the work, its also as playful as it is romantic, as irreverent as it is respectful.
It portrays a little love triangle, a whole movie in a single still, which is exactly what Golden Age Illustration is all about. she said. And the soldier, behind that knowing grin, knows he won.
And the details, the ornate ruffles of the womans pink dress, the flecks of color on the mans collar and cuffs, the bending of the fingers and the curling of the mustache, are so clearly the work of a young painter as capable as any Old Master. No photo of the painting can do justice to its almost three-dimensional quality, its as rich and lively as any Rockwell before or certainly after, when he made his mark as the preeminent chronicler of the everyday American.
Its always a thrill when a Rockwell becomes available. Especially a great one like Excuse Me!, proclaimed Lehmann.
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