Rockwell's "Song of Bernadette" Painting Brings $478,000 in Heritage Auction A private collector paid $478,000 at a Heritage Galleries auction, November 18, 2005, for one of Norman Rockwell's most famous and reproduced paintings, "The Song of Bernadette," made for a 1943 movie
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - (Dallas, Texas) -- Norman Rockwell's original 1943 movie publicity painting for the Academy Award-winning, "The Song of Bernadette," was purchased for $478,000 in a public sale conducted by Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers of Dallas, Texas (www.HeritageGalleries.com), Friday night, November 18, 2005.
The pre-sale estimate was $200,000 to $300,000. The winning bidder was identifed by the auctioneer only as "a private, West Coast collector."
The pious painting depicts actress Jennifer Jones as Bernadette Soubirous, the Maid of Lourdes, a woman of unshakable faith and courage in the film version of the famous Franz Werfel novel.
"The original art was commissioned by movie producer, David O. Selznick, as the centerpiece of an unprecedented publicity campaign for 'The Song of Bernadette' film. It was the most reproduced work of Rockwell's entire career," said Ed Jaster, Vice President of Heritage.
The movie opened in December 1943 and won five Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Jones.
Years later, Rockwell was quoted by author Arthur Guptill in his monograph, "Norman Rockwell, Illustrator," as saying: "Nothing else I ever painted was reproduced so many ways. In addition to its being run in magazines, newspapers and on theater posters, I was told that it covered the entire wall of one eight-story building."
As part of the publicity campaign for the film by 20th century Fox, a 150-foot high display of Rockwell's illustration for "The Song of Bernadette" was set up above a Broadway theater marquee.
The original painting measures 58 inches by 28 inches. It was in the private collection of film producer, William Perlberg, for many years, then owned by Mount Saint Mary's Academy in Los Angeles. It was consigned to the Heritage auction by a private collector who acquired it earlier this year.
The purchase price of $478,000 includes the 19.5 percent buyer's premium added to all winning bids at the $3.4 million, one-day fine arts auction conducted by Heritage, November 18, in Dallas and online.