The collection – which includes the famous painting Saying Grace – is expected to fetch up to more than RM76mil.

Seven works by American painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell, including Saying Grace and The Gossips, will be sold at auction in New York in December, Sotheby’s auction house said.

Rockwell, who died in 1978 at age 84, painted nostalgic and amusing scenes of everyday American life over the course of some 65 years.

The paintings, which are expected to fetch upwards of US$24mil (RM76.8mil) total at the Dec 4 auction, are being sold by the descendents of Kenneth J. Stuart Sr, Rockwell’s friend and the art director at the Saturday Evening Post magazine, which published hundreds of his works on its covers over more than 40 years.

Saying Grace, voted the favourite cover by readers of the Post after it was published in 1951, shows a Mennonite family praying at a restaurant. It has a pre-sale estimate of up to US$20mil (RM64mil).

The Gossips from 1948, in which 15 pairs of people including Rockwell and his wife are depicted talking to each other, could fetch as much as US$9mil (RM28.8mil).

“To offer any one of these masterworks would be a great privilege. To present two of Norman Rockwell’s most iconic works in one auction is unprecedented,” Elizabeth Goldberg, the head of Sotheby’s American Art department, said in a statement.

Other paintings in the sale are Walking To Church, with a pre-sale estimate of up to US$5mil (RM16mil), a portrait of former President Dwight Eisenhower called The Day I Painted Ike, and colour studies for Girl At Mirror, Norman Rockwell Visits A Country School and Breaking Home Ties.

Rockwell’s Breaking Home Ties sold for US$15.4mil (RM49.28mil) in 2006 at Sotheby’s, an auction record for him. — Reuters