Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Norman Rockwell drama

The Hartford Courant carried a story today about a case winding through probate court and the battle between three brothers over the ownership of their father's Norman Rockwell paintings.

Museum officials are keeping a close eye on an application filed last month in a probate court in Connecticut requesting the sale of "Walking to Church" and five other Rockwell paintings and sketches, including one of his portraits of President Eisenhower and the well-known "Gossips" and "Saying Grace."

For more than a decade, the works have been on loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum, which opens its doors annually to about 160,000 visitors who come to view the wholesome, slice-of-life images Rockwell is known for creating. The museum, about 75 miles from Hartford, includes more than 570 paintings and drawings and an archive of more than 100,000 photographs, letters and other Rockwell items.

The request to sell the paintings is the latest legal move in a 14-year family wrangle winding though state, federal and probate courts over the estate of Rockwell friend and longtime Post art director Kenneth Stuart Sr. of Wilton, who died in 1993. Stuart worked closely with Rockwell during his illustration of 323 covers for the Post, work Rockwell did for the magazine for nearly five decades.
But now one of the sons, the executor of the will, wants the paintings back to sell to private owners. The other sons claim that the first is trying to maintain "a lifestyle he was unable to afford before he became executor."

Flashback - The Rockwell friend who painted a forgery of "Breaking Home Ties."

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