The American artist Norman Rockwell found humour and lovable eccentricity in often-idealised scenes from everyday life. Now an exhibition of magazine covers proves there was also a Catholic art like Rockwell’s.
- National Catholic Register
The Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Connecticut, proves it with its current main exhibit called The Art of Illustration: Columbia's Cover Story.
Published by the Knights, Columbia is the largest circulation Catholic publication in North America, a sort of Catholic Saturday Evening Post.
From the 1930s to the 1980s, magazine covers presented a continuous steam of stories and vignettes in paintings in the same popular Saturday Evening Post style, whether by Rockwell and other artists, some of whom did a number of Columbia covers too. Often these wonderful scenes had a Church or religious perspective.
Whether they did or not, anyone could enjoy them, such as the scene with two Vincentian nuns in habits complete with those unforgettable huge white-winged veils casually strolling past a shop where a disappointed florist is placing a sign in his window for Easter corsages.
Or one of the many with Rockwell-like humor, such as Tall Tale Fish Story from 1970. A fisherman opens his hands to show his parish priest the size of fish he caught, but the priest is somewhat sceptical because behind the man, his truthful young son shows the priest the quite different-sized small fish his father actually caught.
Both of these were done by William Luberoff, one of the best and most productive of illustrators. He illustrated more than 60 Columbia covers.
The oldest cover in the show is by Luberoff and dates to 1939. For Catholic Press Month, he pictured a sterling Knight who represented Catholicism. He wields the sword of truth to strike and kill the dragons of ignorance and error.
In the US bicentennial year of 1976, Luberoff also did a serious George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge, seen countless times over the years.
In 1975, another combination of religion and patriotism appears in an illustration of the Immaculate Conception surrounded by images of the Liberty Bell, a traditional fife and drummer, and angels. It reminds us Our Lady is the patroness of our country.
Image: Jimmie's Lock Shop by Donald Winslow (March, 1966; courtesy Knights of Columbus Museum)
FULL STORY Catholic Art in the Style of Norman Rockwell