Description: Soldier on Leave

Norman Rockwell’s illustrations for magazines provided readers with a comforting narrative during the difficult time of World War 2.  Here, an Army flier—identifiable by the insignia on his coat, hanging over the window—cuddles with his girl in a train car, while a solemn little girl gawks from the seat ahead.  In the rows farther ahead and behind them, sailors with their girlfriends also take advantage of the interlude.  The view from behind the seats renders the military men and their girlfriends anonymous, inviting the viewer to imagine themselves in the scenario.

This painting was used as the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in August of 1944, when the end of the war was still almost a year off.  Young men were still being drafted, and similar scenes of military men enjoying a moment of comfort and peace during an interval in their service were probably common sights across the States.

Norman Rockwell often used photos as the basis for his paintings, and this one was no exception: he got his Vermont neighbors to pose in a train car provided by Rutland Railroad.

  • Artist: Norman Rockwell, American, 1894 – 1978
  • Creation Date: 1944
  • Credit line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert M. Boynton, 74.98