Russian Schoolroom

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Russian Schoolroom
Artist Norman Rockwell
Year 1967
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 40 cm × 93 cm (16 in × 37 in)
Location Private collection

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.


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] A reference photo of the Moscow classroom with pupils (1967), taken as a model for Rockwell’s final painting, reveals the inattentive pupil to actually be paying close attention to the teacher, with eyes front. It has been suggested[2] that in changing this detail Rockwell slightly subverted the image to make a subtle political point in favor of non-conformity.

Theft and litigation

The painting was stolen during an exhibit at a small art gallery in Clayton, Missouri, in June 1973. 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.[3]

By 2009 the painting was in the custody of the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.[4] The court decided in 2010 that the painting belonged to art dealer Judy Goffman Cutler who has added it to the collection on display at the National Museum of American Illustration.[5]


  2. Ackerman, Mark (March 12, 2011), “Norman Rockwell – Does it Matter if it’s Art?” @
  3. "Today", MS NBC, Microsoft<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  4. Boehm, Mike (October 6, 2009). "Steven Spielberg and the Norman Rockwell painting that got away". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  5. Rockwell decision, Projo, April 18, 2010<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.[dead link]

External links