Dad’s Rockwell is a Fake? A True Story of Art, Intrigue, and Hidden Treasure
Join MMoA on August 23rd as Don Trachte recounts the incredible true story of intrigue and discovery surrounding one of Norman Rockwell’s most iconic and beloved images, Breaking Home Ties, once owned by his father.
This event is free to MMoA members, and $10 general admission.
In 1954, Norman Rockwell struggled with the idea of how to express the emotion a father feels when a son leaves home for the first time. Finally, he found the right characters and setting to tell the story of the sadness of an old man juxtaposed with the exuberance of his youthful son who is looking forward to an exciting future. The painting, called Breaking Home Ties, was published on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on September 25, 1954.
In 1962, Breaking Home Ties was purchased by Don Trachte, a fellow artist and cartoonist who lived near Rockwell. The painting hung in Don Trachte’s studio for the next 40 years until it was moved to a museum for safe keeping.
While the painting was on view in the museum, concerns by art experts and curators over coloration differences between the painting and the original Saturday Evening Post cover began to escalate and reached a boiling point in 2004, when one art critic proclaimed that the painting in the museum was a “third rate replica.”
Alarmed, the Trachte family began to put the pieces of a puzzle together as they uncovered a series of clues about the painting. As the evidence mounted, denial transformed into obsession at the possibility of a replica made by an unknown artist, only to be superseded by the astonishing truth: the family patriarch had devised a plot to reproduce the painting and hide the original, and what was thought to be an original Rockwell painting had been his replica all along.
Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post Covers: Tell Me a Story has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Media sponsorship has been provided by Curtis Licensing, a division of The Saturday Evening Post.
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