WITH THE SAME humility that infused his paintings, Norman Rockwell refused to consider himself an artist—“commercial illustrator” was more appropriate. And though his work graced greeting cards and Jell-O ads, he became one of our country’s most enduring painters with his nuanced portraits of everyday America—a town meeting, a family gathered for a Thanksgiving feast—that covered The Saturday Evening Post for nearly 50 years.

Now through May, more than 300 of those covers and 44 paintings will be on display at Tacoma Art Museum. From the cheeky rebellion of No Swimming (1921, pictured) to the powerful civil rights commentary of The Problem We All Live With (1963), Rockwell’s iconic paintings portray an America coming of age.

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