Norman Rockwell painting sells for record US$46 million

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 10:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 10:38pm

Norman Rockwell's Saying Grace sold for more than US$46 million, double its high pre-sale estimate, setting a new auction record for an American painting, Sotheby's said.

Saying Grace, which shows diners watching an elderly woman and a boy praying in a crowded restaurant, was voted the favourite cover by readers of the American magazine The Saturday Evening Post when it was published in 1951.

The previous auction record for an American painting was for Polo Crowd by George Bellows, which sold for US$27.7 million in 1999.

"This is just a wonderful result for American art and for Rockwell," Elizabeth Goldberg, the head of Sotheby's American Art department, said in an interview after the sale on Wednesday. "It is largely considered one of his great masterpieces," she added.

Two telephone bidders, who have not been identified, battled for more than nine minutes to buy the prized work.

Goldberg said it was fitting that Rockwell, who died in 1978 at age 84 and painted nostalgic and amusing scenes of everyday American life, should hold the American record. "When people … think of American art, they think of Norman Rockwell," she said.