Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis Returns to Middlebury

January 11, 2019

For immediate release: 1/11/19
For further information contact: Douglas Perkins, at deperkin@middlebury.edu or (802) 443-5235

Middlebury, VT—Thanks to the generosity of a private collector, Norman Rockwell’s 1946 painting, Willie Gillis in College, which features a student in his Middlebury dorm room with Old Chapel visible in the background, has returned to the Middlebury College Museum of Art on extended loan. Rockwell’s painting was previously on loan to Middlebury in 1992 as part of the celebratory opening of the Middlebury College Museum of Art.

Norman Rockwell, Willie Gillis in College
Norman Rockwell (American, 1894–1978), Willie Gillis in College, 1946, oil on canvas. Private Collection.

Between 1941 and 1946 Norman Rockwell created a narrative devoted to Willie Gillis, a fictional soldier, who represented all the young American men caught up in the vicissitudes of World War II. In each instance, the painting became the model for a cover of the Saturday Evening Post, a popular national weekly magazine, for which Rockwell created over three hundred images.

The painting is the centerpiece of a new installation of early 20th century works from the permanent collection, which also includes the important new acquisition of the 1951 painting, Untitled (Seated Man with Bowed Head), by the gifted African American artist Walter Williams (1920-1988).

Walter Williams, Seated Man with Bowed Head
Walter H. Williams, Jr. (American, 1920–1988), Untitled (Seated Man with Bowed Head), 1951, oil on canvas. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art. Purchase with funds provided by the Walter Cerf Art Fund, 2018.111.

The painting by Rockwell was featured on a poster that coincided with the 1992 opening of the Museum. Remaining copies of the poster will be distributed free to visitors who request one (while supplies last).


The Middlebury College Museum of Art, located in the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts on Rte. 30 on the southern edge of campus, is free and open to the public Tues. through Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sat. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The museum is physically accessible. Parking is available in the Mahaney Center parking lot. For further information and to confirm dates and times of scheduled events, please call (802) 443–5007 or TTY (802) 443–3155, or visit the museum’s website at museum.middlebury.edu.