Having spent nineteen
Having spent twenty years with this painting, I'd like to share some personal insights into its profoundly symbolic meaning. When Mr. Rockwell's studio burned in 1943, part of his "self" perished in that fire, and his world was broken apart and turned upside down.
WWII was a time of tremendous change in Mr. Rockwell's life. The death of his spouse, his rise to national fame, and the watchful eye of the U.S. Government meant that he could no longer seek refuge in that studio. His very private life was gone. After the fire, he accepted this reality and disassociated himself from his friends in West Arlington and moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Perhaps this is the reason why the name Norman is missing from the signature on My Studio in West Arlington. The 1940's was a very dark period in Mr. Rockwell's life. Perhaps, he was contemplating how other people's lives would continue without Norman if he committed suicide. Maybe part of his identity died when the studio burned. He struggled for several years to control the deep depression and suicidal thoughts that consumed him after the loss of his studio. He existence was replete with contradictions.
The focal point of Rockwell's paintings is always red or touches something red. In My Studio in West Arlington, the images of both his studio and his home are painted red. The bridge represents a symbolic look back at the past from the future.
The subject matter and psychological significance of My Studio in West Arlington are sure to make this Norman Rockwell original one of the most sought after works ever created by an American artist.
After twenty years, my prized possession is ready to have a new home.