Norman Rockwell Red Sox Painting Could Go for $30 Million

A 1957 painting by Norman Rockwell, America's favorite traditionalist painter and magazine illustrator, is up for sale. An auction house hopes the iconic painting bring in as much as $30 million.

The painting, "The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room)," brushed for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post for March 2, 1957, is set to be gaveled at famed auction house Christie's.

As the auction house described the painting:

The painting, “The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room),” shows pitcher Frank Sullivan, right fielder Jackie Jensen, catcher Sammy White, second baseman Billy Goodman and Hall of Famer Ted Williams. The seasoned, confident players are seen facing an awkward newcomer arriving in the locker room for spring training--dressed in a crumpled suit and a battered bowler hat while also clutching a suitcase, baseball bat and gloves.

Christie's will also host an event at Fenway Park with now long retired player Frank Sullivan and the fellow who served as painter Rockwell's model for the "rookie," one Sherman Safford.

The young Safford was a high school ball player from Pittsfield, Massachusetts when he posed for the painting in 1957. Rockwell used Safford as a model several times in other artworks, as well.

SportsGrid.com reports that famed player Ted Williams was the only one who did not sit to pose for the painter and Rockwell used Williams' baseball cards to help him get the likeness right. But all the other players in the painting sat for Rockwell as he crafted the artwork.

The auction house set a pre-auction estimate for the painting at $20 and $30 million, but even if it reaches all the way to the top estimate it wouldn't be the highest price a Rockwell has fetched at auction.

Just last year the famed painter's 1951 piece, "Saying Grace," reached $46 million at auction.

In fact, the $46 million made the price for "Saying Grace" the highest price ever paid for a painting by an American artist. The previous high, the $27.7 million paid for George Bellows' "Polo Crowd," was set in 1999. Both paintings were sold at Sotheby's in New York.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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