His job for the Saturday Evening Post remains just as regular. Around that time the magazine covers are modernized, gradually giving up their traditional white background. The characters are best staged in such a colorful surrounding and Rockwell more regularly offers groups on the cover including his Willie Gillis war series in 1941.
The covers made by Rockwell are of course the most visible elements of his art but he also works to illustrate the inside pages.
The image of Blacksmith's Boy - Heel and Toe is published on a double page in the Saturday Evening Post of November 2, 1940. The short story narrates a contest in a forge between the local blacksmith and a young itinerant champion. The very excited villagers are betting on the result.
The artist can better express his verve than on a cover because the image is printed in double page without inscriptions. It shows the two champions in full effort encouraged by 21 often excessive characters, including within this crowd a self-portrait gently turned towards the spectator.
Under both anvils the accumulation of horseshoes indicates a tie in the competition. The story exalts this moment when the endurance of the old craftsman allows him to catch up and surpass his rival.
The oil on canvas 89 x 178 cm is very large for this artist. It is part of an important group of artworks offered in de-accessioning by the Berkshire Museum. Originally scheduled by Sotheby's for November 13, 2017, the sale had been suspended. A compromise was found. The masterpiece of this operation, Shuffleton's Barbershop also by Rockwell, was purchased privately for the museum being built by George Lucas in Los Angeles.
Blacksmith's Boy is estimated $ 7M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on May 23, lot 43. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for $ 8.1M including premium