`Shuffleton's' heads for run at Rockwell museum

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STOCKBRIDGE, MASS. — Norman Rockwell's "Shuffleton's Barbershop," painted during the 14 years the artist lived in Arlington, Vt., will go on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum beginning June 9.

The acclaimed 1950 painting, recently acquired by the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, will make its debut as part of the exhibition "Keepers of the Flame: Parrish, Wyeth, Rockwell and the Narrative Tradition," which runs through Oct. 28. "Shuffleton's" will remain on view at the museum in a series of themed presentations through 2020.

"This masterpiece has long been an inspiration to the people of Massachusetts, and we are delighted to be working with the Rockwell Museum to allow its continued public accessibility," Don Bacigalupi, founding president of the Lucas Museum, said in a statement. "We also look forward to displaying this extraordinary work at the Lucas Museum in years to come."

Bacigalupi previously announced that the museum will explore opportunities to lend the painting to other museums after its residency at the Rockwell Museum, in order to maximize public access to the painting, considered one of Norman Rockwell's finest. It will then be featured at the Lucas Museum, opening in 2022, where it will remain on public display.

"With its intimate interior — bathed in poetic light and set amidst the ordinary details of everyday life — Shuffleton's Barbershop is reminiscent of Dutch Old Master painting and is a perfectly fitting centerpiece for our summer exhibition, which chronicles the influence of European traditions on American illustration," Laurie Norton Moffatt, director of the Rockwell Museum, said in a statement.

"Shuffleton's is at once a luminous work of art and a loving accounting of the humble incidents that give our daily lives meaning. We are deeply grateful to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art for partnering with us to ensure that this work will be available to our many visitors, from Berkshire County residents to travelers from across the country and the globe."

The curatorial team at the Norman Rockwell Museum is planning further ways to feature "Shuffleton's Barbershop" after the conclusion of the "Keepers of the Flame" exhibition. Details will be announced at a later date.

Rockwell painted "Shuffleton's Barbershop" during the 14 years he lived in Arlington, from 1939 to 1953. According to the Norman Rockwell Museum's website, "After he left the social swirl of New Rochelle, New York, Rockwell described moving to pastoral Vermont as having 'fallen into Utopia.' The peaceful enclave of Arlington offered Rockwell a simpler, quieter life and the comfort and connection of a community of artists and writers. This would set the stage for one of the most important and acclaimed periods in his career."

The loan of the work to the Rockwell Museum adheres to an agreement reached between the Berkshire Museum and the state Attorney General's Office in February after months of litigation.

The Lucas Museum announced in April that it had acquired "Shuffleton's" for an undisclosed price from the Berkshire Museum via a private sale facilitated by Sotheby's.

The planned sale of "Shuffleton's" and another Rockwell masterpiece painted in Vermont, "Blacksmith's Boy — Heel and Toe (Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop)" along with 38 other works of art by the Berkshire Museum raised the ire of several groups, both local and national.

Rockwell's three sons were among those who filed lawsuits to stop the sale of the work. An April ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court lifted any selling restrictions and allowed the museum to raise up to $55 million through the sale of artworks from its collection.

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