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My Studio Burns 1943
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

In the middle of the night on May 15, 1943, Rockwell's son Tom awoke to see the studio in flames. He banged on his father's bedroom door yelling, "Pop, the studio's on fire." Because the phone was wired through the studio, the line was already dead and Rockwell couldn't call for help. Sending his hired man to the nearest neighbor to summon the fire department, Rockwell dashed to the studio to see what he could save. Suddenly, rifle cartridges and shotgun shells kept in a drawer in the studio started exploding. Rockwell and his family could only stand and watch while flames consumed the studio and most of the adjacent barn. Lost were a dozen of Rockwell's favorite paintings, a collection of costumes, props, artist materials, reference files, prints, books, antique guns and the artist's favorite pipes. Rather than rebuild, Rockwell bought a house nearer to town and hired a carpenter to build a new studio. That summer, while his new studio was built, Rockwell shared Mead Schaeffer's studio. Schaeffer, a goof friend and fellow Post cover artist who lived nearby, said that Rockwell was so convincing in his rationalization of how the setback had been beneficial by forcing him to reexamine his work that he was nearly convinced to burn down his own studio.

Charcoal on paper
Painting for The Saturday Evening Post story illustration, July 17, 1943
Private Collection
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