Norman Rockwell's Cinderfella poster artwork set for auction



2016-01-27 16:16:42

A rare Norman Rockwell artwork for the Jerry Lewis movie Cinderfella is heading to auction at Heritage.

The artwork is an early major consignment to Heritage Auctions' American Art Signature Auction in Dallas on May 7.

In the 1960 movie, Lewis plays the central part of 'Fella' in a role-reversal retelling of the Cinderella story. Having been conceived by Lewis as a major family holiday picture, Lewis hired Count Basie and his orchestra to perform the music and insisted that Norman Rockwell was the only choice to create the promotional campaign artwork.

"My whole idea was to get an icon in the world of art and have that icon sell the movie for me. . . . And Rockwell brought that. That's what he brought," said Lewis.

"As a director of the project, I had to go to New York, meet with all the advertising people and the selling people at the Paramount building, and I sat with them, and I said, 'Let's understand something. This is not a movie that comes #10, #11, #12. This is not that kind of movie. All of our selling in the past has been fine. But now we've got Norman Rockwell to sell this movie for us. . . . This is going to be a tribute to Rockwell, my respect for the man, and I'm to take his work and make it the entire ad campaign.' . . .

"It was very successful. We figured the picture would gross about $7 million domestic. The minute we put Rockwell's name to it, the figure became $16 million. When it went out, it did about $5 ½ million more than that."

Rockwell's reputation as the "people's artist", and his dedication to the theme of the common man in American life, tied in perfectly with the film's theme of being a "people" rather than a "person".

Norman Rockwell's love of the cinema was well-documented, but throughout his career he rarely produced artwork for Hollywood productions. Prior to Cinderfella, he had worked on just six movie posters: The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938), Along Came Jones (1945), The Magnificent Ambersons (1941), The Song of Bernadette (1943), The Razor's Edge (1946), and Samson and Delilah (1950).

This rare original artwork, used as the poster and in all the significant advertising for the film, is now expected to sell for $300,000-$500,000.

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