Norman Rockwell's The Song of Bernadette achieves 3.4% pa increase

Norman Rockwell's The Song of Bernadette has realised $605,000 at Heritage Auctions' Art of the Illustrator sale - an increase of 3.4% pa since 2005 when it made $478,000 in New York.

Norman Rockwell Bernadette
Rockwell's illustration was the centrepiece of an unprecedented publicity campaign

Created for the 1943 film of the same name starring Jennifer Jones, the illustration was enormously popular. It remains one of the most reproduced images of Rockwell's career.

One of America's best loved painters, Rockwell worked as an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post for 50 years, and is best known for his sentimental portraits of American life.

An upcoming sale at Sotheby's New York on December 4 could see Rockwell's Saying Grace make $20m.

Elsewhere at the October 26 auction, Gil Elvgren's Lucky Dog (Dog Gone Robber), a 1958 calender illustration for Brown & Bigelow, sold for $173,000.

Gil Elvgren Dog Gone
Elvgren is one of the best known pin-up artists of the 20th century

Elvgren's work has proved popular at recent auctions, regularly achieving impressive increases on estimate.

A sale of illustration art at Heritage last year saw Skirting the Breeze (Breezing Up) realise $176,500 against a $50,000 high estimate - up 259.9%.

Bare Essentials, another work produced for Brown & Bigelow, made $137,000 in July - an increase of 82.6% on its $75,000 valuation.

Two more works by Elvgren, On the House and Come and Get It, made $149,000 and $137,000, respectively, at the present auction.

Jessie Wilcox Smith's A Child's Prayer, an illustration for the cover of a book circa 1925, achieved $112,500.

This was the first time that the work had ever sold at auction. It had remained in the collection of a single family since it was first produced.

Steven Dohanos' The Future Fireman sold for $106,250. It was created for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in November 1958.

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