Rockwell's painting depicts a Mennonite family saying grace in a crowded restaurant. It was the cover picture for the 1951 Thanksgiving edition of The Saturday Evening Post magazine.
"Saying Grace" was just one of three Rockwell paintings sold today at Sotheby's, the other two included "The Gossips," which sold for a little under $8.5 million, and "Walking to Church," bringing in about $3.2 million.
An earlier record for an American painting was set in 1999 at Sotheby's. George Bellows' work titled "Polo Crowd" sold for $27.7 million. Sotheby's said the sale today was a record for a Norman Rockwell painting.
The three Rockwell paintings had been on loan at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. for nearly 20 years. The museum has the world's largest collection of original Rockwell art located in the artist's hometown.
Norman Rockwell was an American painter and illustrator. He was best known for his works depicting American life and culture in the early 20th century. But he is most famous for his illustrations appearing on the covers of the Saturday evening Post magazine.
Rockwell also did cover illustrations for the Boy Scouts of America's Boy's Life magazine, as well as calendars and other work for the organization.
One of Rockwell's most inspirational and patriotic works was actually a series of four paintings. Done in 1943, and taking only seven months to complete, the series was called "The Four Freedoms."
Rockwell had been inspired by a speech given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he described the four universal principles or rights of all people; Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, and Freedom from Fear.