Russian Schoolroom

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Russian Schoolroom
Artist Norman Rockwell
Year 1967
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 40 cm × 93 cm (16 in × 37 in)
Location National Museum of American Illustration

Russian Schoolroom (1967) — also known as The Russian Classroom and Russian Schoolchildren — is an oil on canvas painting created by American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) and commissioned by Look magazine. It depicts Russian schoolchildren in a classroom with a bust of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.

The painting is shown at the National Museum of American Illustration.


Russian Schoolroom depicts a group of seated and attentive Soviet schoolchildren looking towards the viewer’s left, presumably at a teacher outside the visual frame. A bust of V.I. Lenin with strewn flowers is, however, partially visible there. The children wear red Young Communist neckerchiefs and a Russian slogan on the wall behind them exhorts them to “Study and Learn”. One pupil on the right, however, looks away to the viewer’s right, like a typical schoolboy losing focus and finding something more interesting to see outdoors.


Russian Schoolroom was published in the October 3, 1967, edition of Look as part of a series of articles on life in the Soviet Union. Rockwell had visited School No. 39 in Moscow where he drew puppy sketches on a chalkboard.[1] Reference photos of the Moscow classroom with pupils, taken as a model for Rockwell’s final painting, reveal that the inattentive pupil is actually paying close attention to the teacher, with eyes front.[2][3] It has been suggested that in changing this detail, Rockwell slightly subverted the image to make a subtle political point in favor of non-conformity.[2] Additional reference photos show Rockwell himself sitting in that student's seat, apparently demonstrating a distracted look, which the student then emulated.[4][5]

Theft and litigation[edit]

The painting was stolen during an exhibit at a small art gallery in Clayton, Missouri, in June 1973.[6] In 1988, it turned up and was sold at an auction in New Orleans for about $70,000. Steven Spielberg bought the painting from Judy Goffman Cutler, a noted art dealer who specialized in American illustrators, in 1989 for $200,000. A member of his staff spotted the painting on a FBI web listing of stolen works of art and the authorities were immediately notified.[7] By 2009, the painting was in the custody of the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.[8] The court decided in 2010 that the painting belonged to Cutler, who has added it to the collection on display at the National Museum of American Illustration.[9]


  1. ^ "LOOK Magazine – October 3, 1967". Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Ackerman, Mark (March 12, 2011). "Norman Rockwell – Does it Matter if it's Art?". Archived from the original on April 26, 2012 – via
  3. ^ "Reference photo for Education (38883)". Norman Rockwell Museum. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Reference photo for Education (38917)". Norman Rockwell Museum. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "Reference photo for Education (38918)". Norman Rockwell Museum. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  6. ^ "Rockwell Work Is Stolen From Clayton Shop". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 26, 1973. p. 13. Retrieved April 7, 2018 – via
  7. ^ "Stolen Rockwell found in Spielberg's collection". Associated Press. March 3, 2007 – via Today.
  8. ^ Boehm, Mike (October 6, 2009). "Steven Spielberg and the Norman Rockwell painting that got away". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  9. ^ Salit, Richard (April 18, 2010). "Judge vindicates Newport art dealer over sale of painting". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on April 22, 2010 – via

Further reading[edit]

  • Garrison, Chad (June 6, 2007). "The Rockwell Files". The Riverfront Times. Steven Spielberg's stolen painting, a St. Louis art thief, and a plot to kill Martin Luther King. It could make a helluva movie.

External links[edit]