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Born on February 3, 1894 in New York City to Jarvis Waring and Ann Mary (Hill) Rockwell. Rockwell transferred from high school to the Chase Art School at the age of 16. He then went on to the National Academy of Design, and finally, to the Art Students League, where he was taught by Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman. Rockwells early works were done for St. Nicholas Magazine, the Boy Scouts of America publication Boys Life, and other juvenile publications. Joseph Csatari carried on his legacy and style for the BSA. As a student, Rockwell was given smaller, less important jobs. Rockwells first major breakthrough came in 1912 at age 18 with his first book illustration for C.H. Claudy's Tell Me Why: Stories about Mother Nature. Norman Rockwell was very prolific, and produced over 4000 original art works, most of which have been either destroyed by fire or are in permanent collections. Original magazines in mint condition that contain his art work are extremely rare and can command thousands of dollars today.

Many of his art works appear overly sweet in modern critics eyes, especially the Saturday Evening Post covers, which tend toward idealistic or sentimentalized portrayals of American life, this has led to the often depreciatory adjective Rockwellesque. The Marriage License is a Saturday Evening Post cover from June 11, 1955 and belongs with the finest examples of Rockwells art. The contrast between the young couple and the old marriage-license clerk is conventional enough, but the cliche is transcended by the quality of the painting.