Artwork fit for a 'King'
And sold … to "The King"! Raw color commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler recently outbid the competition at a Dallas auction to take home a rare piece of artwork by legendary painter and illustrator, Norman Rockwell.
"It's an amazing piece of art. All my life I've been an artist, and have been blessed with some artistic abilities. Norman Rockwell has always been my favorite artist of all-time, and a major influence on all the artwork I've ever done," said Lawler. "To have an opportunity to own an actual piece of art he did himself is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I'm really excited."
Before embarking on perhaps one of the most prolific careers in sports-entertainment history, Lawler was offered an art scholarship. The King is an acclaimed artist in his own right, and had numerous illustrations featured in the Orlando Sentinel each Sunday leading up to WrestleMania 24 in Orlando, Fla.
"[Rockwell] painted a side of Americana; Everybody wishes the world was like a Norman Rockwell painting," The King explained of the artistic legend's work. "He was a fabulous artist and a realist. Sometimes you could look at his paintings and [find it] hard to tell them from a photograph. When I think of the best artist ever, he's the first one that comes to mind."
Born in 1894 in New York City, Rockwell's career spanned six decades with more than 4,000 original works to his credit. As an illustrator, he became popular for his work in the Saturday Evening Post magazine. He was commissioned for more than 40 books, including such classics as "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn."
Lawler joins movie titans George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as owners of original Rockwell artwork. His "Breaking Home Ties" piece, which appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1954, sold for $15.4 million at a 2006 Sotheby's auction.
Fans from around the world travel to get a glance at Rockwell's originals. Today, Rockwell's 1935 illustration for "The Ferry Over" drawing is a highlight in The King's Memphis home. Realizing the importance of preserving and protecting artwork, Lawler wants to share this one-of-a-kind masterpiece with the public, and is interested in the possibility of loaning his new drawing to one of Memphis' art museums.
Although Lawler has achieved many accolades throughout his illustrious career, including, being a WWE Hall of Famer, he would have traded in his sports-entertainment career for Rockwell's talent.
"I would have never had the discipline to have the type of career that Rockwell had. He was just the most talented artist I have ever seen. I don't think there is one person alive doing art that hasn't been influenced in some way by Norman Rockwell," Lawler said.