[NARRATOR] If you’ve spent any time at all in Stockbridge, you’ll recognize the subject of this painting.
[FITZPATRICK] The painting portrays what appears to be a very idealistic and almost make-believe village. But it’s not make-believe- it’s our real town, where we live and shop and work.
[NARRATOR] Nancy Fitzpatrick’s family owns the Red Lion Inn, the building on the far right side of the canvas.
[FITZPATRICK] It pretty much looks the same now. I mean, there’s a handicapped-accessible entrance to the bank, but that’s literally the only difference, except that the Red Lion Inn is all lively at Christmastime. The Red Lion Inn is dark in the picture. It was a summer hotel that opened in May and closed in October. It really over the last 30 years has become the center of village life. We have used Main Street at Christmastime as the cover of our brochure for almost 30 years.
[NARRATOR] Every Christmas, a group of locals duplicates this painting in three dimensions on the real Main Street. The block is closed, and classic cars are parked in their appropriate spots, down to the car with a Christmas tree on its roof.
[FITZPATRICK] The whole scene looks just eerily like the painting.
[NARRATOR] Rockwell’s first studio in Stockbridge was above Nejaime’s market in the center of Main Street. In the painting, he put a lighter Christmas tree in the window. His second Stockbridge studio, a 19th century carriage barn which was moved to the museum grounds in 1986, can be seen in the far right of the painting. The Old Corner House, the Norman Rockwell Museum’s first home, appears to the far left. He started painting this scene in 1957, but because of his busy schedule he didn’t finish it until ten years later, when it was subsequently published in McCall’s magazine.
[FITZPATRICK] He was a regular Red Lion Inn customer. You know, it wasn’t a big deal when he came in. Sometimes it was a big deal when some of his subjects came into the Red Lion. You think you’ve seen everything when you see John Wayne walking up the front steps of the Red Lion Inn buckling his gunbelt.
MUSIC: CHRISTMAS MUSIC
ROCKWELL CHAR: This perfect picture of Christmas in New England is actually my hometown- Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where we are right now. Brings back a lot of memories for me.
SFX: HORSE WHINNY, MUSIC STOPS ABRUPTLY
No, silly, the horses were long gone by the time we moved in!
Okay, pop quiz- how is this painting different from all the other paintings you’ve seen so far? If you guessed, “It’s all buildings, you can barely see the people!”, then, you’re right. I like to paint people, what can I say. I think faces are interesting. I painted this for McCall’s magazine in 1967, to go inside their Christmas issue. Actually, I started it in 1957- it took me ten years to finish it, I was so busy!