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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Rolf Armstrong Frankenstein Pastel Finds Home at Norman Rockwell Museum

Dallas, TX – A rare and famous portrait of Boris Karloff in his full Frankenstein makeup, rendered by renowned illustration early twentieth-century artist Rolf Armstrong, now has a permanent home in the Norman Rockwell Museum, located in Stockbridge, MA, thanks to Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries.

“This work of art had been in a private collection for many years,” said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Movie Poster Auctions for Heritage, “and when the owner passed away, the estate was interested in having us auction the piece, but told us that a condition of the owner’s will required the painting to be donated and displayed for at least a year in a museum or similar institution.”

Doug Norwine, Heritage’s Director of Music & Entertainment Auctions, continues, “Because they are the premier museum for illustration art, we arranged for the painting to be donated to the Norman Rockwell Museum, with the idea of auctioning it after an appropriate period of time and paying the proceeds, after commission, to the museum. As it turns out, this marvelous piece has proven so popular that the museum elected to keep it in their permanent collection. We are honored to have played a small part in the recovery, and now the permanent display, of this historic treasure.”

Rolf Armstrong (1899-1960), widely hailed as “the father of the American pin-up,” was an important illustration artist whose work adorned countless calendars, magazines, and sheet music covers during the first half of the twentieth century. He captured the images of such top stars as Mary Pickford, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, and Greta Garbo, and even persuaded Boris Karloff to pose for him on the set of Bride of Frankenstein (1935), resulting in this incredible portrait. For years, fans of the Golden Age of Universal Horror have speculated that this iconic work was forever “lost to the ages,” an assumption now happily shown to be false.

“We’re pleased that this painting has found such a good home,” said Smith, “and that it will now be available to the general public to see and enjoy for many years to come.”

Heritage Auction Galleries is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales of over $600 million, and over 375,000 registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit