A Bright Future for Banking
Signed “Norman Rockwell” (bottom center)
Oil on canvas
Few paintings capture our hearts and imaginations as those by the great American illustrator Norman Rockwell. His very best paintings are those that reflect his own hopes and beliefs that the world would be a better place down the road. A Bright Future for Banking, executed as a special commission for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1955, is one such work. Enjoyed by millions of Americans in the June 18, 1955, edition of the Saturday Evening Post, it is quintessential Rockwell in both its story and its execution.
With his astute eye for narrative, Rockwell captures the hopeful expressions of these new graduates during what is likely their commencement speech. Each of his young subjects is contemplating the gravity of the moment and the seriousness of the adulthood that awaits them, while also exuding a youthful optimism that is present in so many of Rockwell’s most beloved canvases. The proud faces of his subjects and the exquisite composition of the piece perfectly demonstrates how Rockwell was able to capture in a single painting the essence of a generation.
Norman Rockwell was America’s favorite storyteller, and his talents were actively sought after by the most important publications and companies of his age. His early success as a cover illustrator gained him a celebrity status within his niche market, and advertisers clamored to feature a Rockwell creation in their own companies’ advertisements. He painted A Bright Future for Banking in 1955 as an advertisement for Chase Manhattan Bank, and it is the only illustration he ever composed for the company during his long career. It remains one of his most iconic and impactful scenes, deftly capturing the youthful dreams and ambitions of the nation.
Rockwell’s ability to capture the character of the nation was prized not only by magazine art editors but also by advertisers. Nearly all major magazines of the day called upon Rockwell for his outstanding compositions, including Literary Digest, Life, Country Gentleman, Look and the iconic Saturday Evening Post. Taken together, his many paintings capture the essence of the American spirit. “I paint life as I would like it to be,” Rockwell once said. Mythical, idealistic, and innocent, his paintings evoke a longing for a time and place that existed in his rich imagination and in the hopes and aspirations of the nation.
Norman Rockwell led a long and successful career as an artist. While history was in the making all around him, Rockwell chose to fill his canvases with the small details and nuances of ordinary people in everyday life. Taken together, his many paintings capture the essence of the American spirit. Rockwell said, “Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.” Painting poignant pictures that graced the covers of Literary Digest, the Saturday Evening Post, American, Life, Country Gentleman, and Look magazines, Rockwell’s distinguished career earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, the highest honor bestowed upon an American civilian.
This important work is pictured in Norman Rockwell: A Definitive Catalogue, Volume I, by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Painted in 1955
Canvas: 18 3/4″ high x 22 1/4″ wide
Frame: 23 3/4″ high x 27 1/4″ wide