Nor­man Rock­well’s fam­ily op­posed to sale of artist’s work

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Mem­bers of Nor­man Rock­well’s fam­ily are the lat­est to speak out against a Mas­sachusetts mu­seum’s plan to sell the il­lus­tra­tor’s works.

The fam­ily in a let­ter pub­lished in Fri­day’s print edi­tion of The Berk­shire Ea­gle asked the Berk­shire Mu­seum in Pittsfield not to auc­tion “Shuf­fle­ton’s Bar­ber­shop.’’

The mu­seum is sell­ing 40 art­works, in­clud­ing two by Rock­well, to build en­dow­ment funds and fi­nance ren­o­va­tions.

The let­ter, signed by Rock­well’s three sons and three of his grand­sons, says they fear it will go to a pri­vate col­lec­tor at auc­tion, and will no longer be avail­able to the pub­lic.

“We be­lieve that this paint­ing is one of Nor­man Rock­well’s finest and should stay at a pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion, so that it can be seen,’’ the let­ter said.

The let­ter doesn’t men­tion the other Rock­well piece on the auc­tion block, “Black­smith’s Boy-Heel and Toe’’ also known as “Shafts­bury Black­smith Shop.’’ But Mar­garet Rock­well, man­ager of the Nor­man Rock­well Fam­ily Agency, tells the pa­per the fam­ily op­poses the sale of that one as well. Both were cre­ated for The Satur­day Evening Post.

Both oil paint­ings were gifts to the mu­seum from the artist. Rock­well lived in nearby Stock­bridge for the last 25 years of his life.

The sale of all 40 works has been de­nounced by two na­tional mu­seum or­ga­ni­za­tions that said sell­ing pieces of a col­lec­tion to pay bills vi­o­lates a car­di­nal rule of the mu­seum in­dus­try. Lo­cal artists have also spo­ken out against the sale.

The Berk­shire Mu­seum, founded in 1903, said it hopes the sale will raise $40 mil­lion for its en­dow­ment and $20 mil­lion for ren­o­va­tions as it re­fo­cuses its mis­sion on sci­ence and nat­u­ral his­tory.

The pres­i­dent of the mu­seum’s trustees says she ap­pre­ci­ates the Rock­well fam­ily’s pas­sion, but the auc­tion will pro­ceed.

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