NEWPORT, R.I. — The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a Gala Event and Benefit Auction on the evening of July 30, 2015, at Vernon Court, the Museum’s home on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. As the first National Museum devoted to American illustration art, the NMAI has furthered the global public’s understanding of “the most American of American Art” through its series of groundbreaking national and international traveling art exhibitions and authoring a host of scholarly publications including books on the renown American illustrators.
As a part of this outstanding summer evening event, three laureates will be honored for their respective contributions to popular American culture with American Civilization Awards: Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s Today Show; actress and children’s book author Evangeline Lilly; and Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Paul Szep. This event is a fundraiser for the NMAI Endowment Fund and offers a major auction to benefit the Museum.
A highlight of the evening will be the fundraising auction featuring ay. The Kennedy portrait was featured on the April 6, 1963, cover of the Saturday Evening Post; it is amongst Norman Rockwell’s most memorable and highly-valued commissions.
Judy Goff man Cutler, NMAI’s co-founder and museum director, reflects on Kennedy’s particular importance to Newport: “John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in 1953 just one mile from the NMAI, and summered here during his presidency at Hammersmith Farm, the ‘Summer White House.’ It seems appropriate for this last Rockwell portrait of an America President to be sold to benefit the NMAI.”
Alongside this important portrait, the auction also features artworks by Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, Howard Chandler Christy, Ludwig Bemelmans and others of the most notable artist-illustrators from the Golden Age of American Illustration. Bidding on items at the Petite Auction will open online two weeks prior to the Anniversary Gala, concluding in a live auction at the event itself on July 30.
All proceeds will benefit the NMAI Endowment Fund and its mission to educate the public through exhibitions of artworks by the greatest of the American illustrators. The auction items are available for online viewing at www. AmericanIllustration.org, and clicking “Benefit Auction” image on the homepage.
Founded in 1998, by Judy Goffman Cutler and Laurence S. Cutler, the NMAI showcases its American Imagist Collection, with artworks by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, JC Leyendecker, Jessie Willcox Smith and more than 150 other luminaries. Illustrations are artworks originally created to be reproduced in magazines and newspapers, as posters and advertisements, and on products such as greeting cards and calendars. Because of their creativity, technical execution, the context in which they were created and the purpose of their commission, they remain a poignant bookmark of American civilization.
On view this summer is another of NMAI’s groundbreaking exhibitions: Norman Rockwell and His Contemporaries, a thematic exploration of artworks by Rockwell and his peers, including those who were influenced by Rockwell and those who influenced the Master himself. The most noted artist-illustrators of Rockwell’s time knew each other as colleagues, classmates and friends, living and working together in relevant artist communities, sustaining one another and sharing clients and models. They were united with a common purpose: to accurately portray our nation visually, and meet its ever-rising demands for more images as publishing, advertising and new and growing distribution systems expanded delivery capabilities.
Particularly highlighted alongside Rockwell are renowned illustrators John Clymer, Stevan Dohanos, John Falter, George Hughes, and Mead Schaeffer. Clymer flawlessly captured the wilderness of the American West in his scenic and boundless landscapes. Dohanos’ clear visual images gave audiences poignant glimpses of Americana on magazine covers and stamps. Falter’s humorous depictions of children and Americans’ everyday lives became an entertaining principle of the Saturday Evening Post throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Hughes’ foundation in fashion and graphic design led to highly stylized, elegant illustrations for both magazine covers and stories. Prolific in illustrations for adventure novels before moving to magazine covers, Schaeffer’s authentic portrayals of pirates, buccaneers and soldiers alike made him stand out as a great illustrator.
These Rockwell contemporaries reflected American society by depicting universal themes still held dear today, including courtship, family gatherings, holidays, seasons and others. Debuting at the Gala is a never-before-seen, 350-page exhibition catalogue featuring artworks by 100 20th century illustrators. Each guest couple or individual will receive a copy of the book upon evening’s end. To purchase 15th Anniversary Gala tickets, or for information on the National Museum of American Illustration and its exhibitions, visit www.AmericanIllustration.org or call 401-851-8949, ext. 18.