UPDATED: 'Rosie the Riveter' Joins Crystal Bridges' Collection

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Jun. 8, 2009 4:38 pm  

Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell. Image courtesy of The Saturday Evening Post. Photography by Dwight Primiano. Norman Rockwell Rosie the Riveter, 1943 Oil on canvas 52 x 40 in. (132.1 x 101.6 cm)

Norman Rockwell's painting "Rosie the Riveter," a cultural icon, has been acquired by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as part of its permanent collection. Painted for the May 29, 1943, cover of the Saturday Evening Post, "Rosie the Riveter" depicts a strong, capable feminine figure on the home front work effort during World War II.   
"Rockwell's thoroughly modern Rosie not only addresses the war effort as touching all American lives but a 'can do' spirit and the emergence of women into the workforce during a time of national crisis," Chris Crosman, chief curator at Crystal Bridges, said in a statement. 

"She is emblematic of a sea change in American culture," Crosman said. "Importantly, the artist's depiction celebrates, even helps to invent, due to mass distribution as a War Bond poster and magazine cover, the beginnings of gender equality." 

"Rosie the Riveter" was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2002 for $4,959,500. Media reports at the time said that it was a record price for a Norman Rockwell painting. The painting was bought by the Elliott Yeary Gallery of Aspen, Colo., representing Ranger Endowments Management of Dallas, an investment firm.

Crosman declined to reveal the price paid by Crystal Bridges for the painting or from whom the painting was bought, saying only that it was "a private collector." Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is under construction in Bentonville. Once completed, it is expected to be one of the most important museums of American art in the world.

The oil on canvas painting is 52 by 40 inches.

"It's a painting that has great aesthetic as well as historic significance. It relates indirectly to paintings that we have that speak to different moments in history," Crosman said in an interview with Arkansas Business. "It's one of those images that's recognizable even if you don't know who the artist is."

"It's cultural history; it's social history; it's art history," Crosman said.

Crystal Bridges Museum has lent some of its previous acquisitions to other museums for display while the Bentonville museum is under construction.

"Well known for capturing idyllic, yet honest, images of American life, from Thanksgiving to baseball to topical subjects such as the Civil Rights Movement, many of Norman Rockwell's paintings became popular symbols of American values and turned multitudes of Americans into art enthusiasts," the museum's statement said.  
"Crystal Bridges' acquisition of Rosie the Riveter from a private collector will now give public audiences opportunities to share in this important painting's timeless spirit and transformative story," the museum said.

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