A Tale of Two Paintings
Join Don Trachte, Jr. at the Manchester Community Library at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 13, for a ‘A Tale of Two Paintings: A Norman Rockwell Painting, Not Known to be Missing, Was Found.’ 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. He finally 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, Don Trachte, a fellow artist and cartoonist who lived near Rockwell, purchased the painting; it hung in his studio for the next 40 years until it was moved to a museum for safekeeping. While the painting was on view in the museum, concerns by art experts and curators over coloration differences between the painting and the original illustration began to escalate, reaching a boiling point in 2004, when one art critic proclaimed that the painting was a “third-rate replica.” Alarmed, the artist’s sons began to put the pieces of a puzzle together as they uncovered a series of clues about the painting. Their sleuthing addressed the possibility of a replica made by an unknown artist, and uncovered their father’s plot to reproduce the painting and hide the original.
In 2006, the original painting sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for the highest amount ever paid for a Norman Rockwell painting at that time. Don Trachte, Jr. is convinced that the record price received was due to the intrigue around the tale of these two paintings – a story of discovery that continues to mesmerize. For who among us has never dreamed of finding hidden treasure?
The eldest son of artist Donald Trachte, Don Trachte, Jr. was born in 1947. He spent his childhood in the wholesome environment of 1950s Arlington, was a neighbor and friend of the Rockwell family, and grew up with many of the people depicted in Rockwell’s paintings. A resident of Bennington, he is currently cataloguing his father’s large collection of artwork and artifacts, and speaks about his experience of discovering an original Norman Rockwell painting behind a secret wall. He lives in Bennington, Vermont. The program is free and open to all.
Manchester Community Library is located at 138 Cemetery Avenue. For more information, call 802-362-2607.