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Rockwell Painting Long Thought to Be Copy Sells for $1.6 million


1948 Original Study for "Tough Call" by Norman Rockwell

This is What’s Trending Today…

Norman Rockwell is considered one of America’s most famous artists of the 20th century.

He was known for painting traditional and small-town American scenes. His subjects included sports, war and images of American culture, such as a Thanksgiving dinner or a family praying together.

Today, people who own original Norman Rockwell paintings can sell them for a lot of money.

A family in Texas had enjoyed their Rockwell image for many years. They thought the picture hanging above their fireplace was a copy – not an original painting.

But recently, a member of the family discovered the truth – the piece was in fact a signed Norman Rockwell masterpiece.

It shows a group of baseball umpires looking up at the sky while deciding whether to cancel a game due to rain. Rockwell painted it as a study, a smaller work created in preparation for his famous piece “Tough Call” in 1948.

The Norman Rockwell painting 'Tough Call' was used for this 1949 cover of American magazine 'The Saturday Evening Post.'
The Norman Rockwell painting 'Tough Call' was used for this 1949 cover of American magazine 'The Saturday Evening Post.'

​Rockwell gave the study to one of the umpires featured in the piece. The image remained in the family. His completed “Tough Call” sits in America’s Baseball Hall of Fame.

Once family members received confirmation the piece was a real, signed original, they decided to list it with an auction company.

Chris Ivy is director of Sports Memorabilia at Heritage Auctions, which took in the painting. He said it was “remarkable” to find such an important Norman Rockwell original after so many years.

It was also remarkable how much money the painting brought during the recent auction in Dallas, Texas.

The company had predicted the masterpiece would bring in about $300,000. So nearly everyone was surprised when the painting sold for $1.6 million to an unnamed collector.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on stories from Reuters and other sources. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

We want to hear from you. If you unexpectedly found out you owned very valuable things, do you think you would sell them right away? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

scene – n. a view or sight that looks like a picture

original adj. made first, not a copy

masterpiece n. work of art considered to be excellent quality

umpire – n. person who oversees a game of sports and makes sure rules are followed

study – n. artistic work created to prepare for a larger work

auction n. sale in which things are sold to the person offering the most money

remarkable adj. unusual or surprising; likely to be noticed

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