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Mary Barstow and Norman Rockwell Marriage Profile

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Norman Rockwell and his second wife Mary dealt with a lot of stresses and issues from their childhoods during their marriage. Here is information about their short courtship, their wedding, and more.

Born:

Norman Perceval Rockwell: February 3, 1894 in New York, New York.

Mary Rhodes Barstow: Abt. 1908.

How Norman and Mary Met:

Norman met Mary in Southern California on a blind date when Norman was visiting friends. Norman proposed two weeks after their first date. They announced their engagement on March 27, 1930.

Wedding Date and Information:

Mary and Norman were married on April 17, 1930 in the garden of her parents' home in Alhambra, California. Their wedding ceremony was officiated by a Presbyterian minister. Mary's sister, Nancy Barstow served as the maid of honor and Lyde Forsythe was best man. They had around 140 guests at their wedding and reception.

Children:

Norman and Mary had three sons.
  • Jarvis Waring Rockwell: Born in 1932.
  • Thomas Rhodes Rockwell: Born in 1933. Thomas is an author.
  • Peter Barstow Rockwell: Born in 1936. Peter is a sculptor.

Occupations:

Norman: Illustrator, painter, commercial artist, author, magazine art director.

Mary: Schoolteacher.

Other Marriages:

Norman had two other marriages:

Died:

Norman: Norman died at his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts at the age of 84 from emphysema on November 8, 1978.

Mary: Mary died from heart failure on August 25, 1959. Mary died at the age of 51.

Quotes About the Marriage of Norman Rockwell and Mary Barstow:

David Kamp: "For all the considerable thought he put into his pictures for the American people, Rockwell was neglectful on the home front ... The pressure and burden of not only being Mrs. Norman Rockwell but managing all his business affairs took its toll on Mary, sending her into a tailspin of alcoholism and depression. By moving closer to Austen Riggs, Mary could get intensive treatment, and Rockwell, too, went to a therapist."
Source: David Kamp. "Norman Rockwell’s American Dream." VanityFair.com. 11/2009.

Laura Claridge: "Mary Barstow Rockwell, whom at least one of her sons would always think of as a kind of Pollyanna, had progressed overnight from the protected status of a sheltered young woman living with her parents to being the wife of a world-famous illustrator. To her everlasting credit, she proved herself up to the demands of marrying a depressed artist, carrying a great deal of emotional baggage ... Mary not only organized his home life so that he could work whenever he wanted, but she was available to him emotionally and socially the minute he called."
Source: Laura Claridge. Norman Rockwell: A Life. 2003. pgs 232-233.

Donald Capps: "Among the Rockwells' relatives and friends, no one seemed to remember when Mary began drinking too much. In early 1948, however, she was showing signs of mental fatigue. She was only forty years old ... [later] she continued to have severe bouts of depression and would walk for hours around Stockbridge trying to shake the depression and suicidal urges ... Two years later, in a decision suggesting that Mary may have tried to kill herself, the staff at Austen Riggs acknowledged that she was too ill for them to treat, and recommended that she be admitted to the Institute for Living in Hartford, Connecticut, for electroconvulsive therapy ... Claridge suggests that the long-term abuse of alcohol and potent psychopharmaceutical drugs, in conjunction with electric shock treatments, probably triggered heart failure."
Source: Donald Capps. "Erik H. Erikson, Norman Rockwell, and the Therapeutic functions of a Questionable Painting." American Imago. Summer 2008. Vol. 65, Iss. 2, pg. 191, 38 pgs.

Peter Rockwell: “He [Norman] was not necessarily a very good father or husband -— a workaholic who never took vacations, so he never took us on vacations. He was also a naïf. He couldn’t think maturely enough to realize that, because of the success and size of his career, he needed to hire an accountant, a manager, and a secretary. So all that fell to my mother, and it was too much.”
Source: David Kamp. "Norman Rockwell’s American Dream." VanityFair.com. 11/2009.

Normal Rockwell Relationship Timeline

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