Norman Rockwell’s Two Plumbers achieved $14.9m at auction on May 23.
That’s a remarkable figure when you consider it last sold for $882,500 in 1996. That sum was an artist record for a short time (it was surpassed three lots later).
Two Plumbers is one of Rockwell's most iconic paintings
Since that last sale it has achieved annual growth of 14.4%.
It also more than doubled it $7m estimate, accounting for almost half of the $33m spent in the sale.
This iconic painting appeared on the cover of a 1952 edition of the Evening Post, the publication with which Rockwell is most often associated.
It’s a comic scene, showing two plumbers horsing around on the job.
Rockwell’s biographer, Christopher Finch, said: “It is easy to see that had he not been a gifted artist, Norman Rockwell might well have become a successful writer or director for film or television.
“Situation comedy has been one of the most popular genres in both these mediums, and no one has a better knack for inventing comic situations than Rockwell.”
The sale also featured regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton’s Across the Curve of the Road (circa 1938), which made $1.5m.
Regionalism was a US art movement conceived as a reaction to modernism’s perceived elitism and city bias.
Artists like Benton chose America’s small towns and rural backwaters as their subject.
Regionalism was at the height of its influence during the toughest years of the Depression, providing reassurance that the American heartland remained as it always had been in the face of rapid social and technological change.
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