In the first week of November of 1962, Rockwell fans would not know that the cover of their Saturday Evening Post featured Rockwell’s last story telling cover. The painting, given the somewhat confusing title, Lunch Break with a Knight, pictures a night watchman enjoying a sandwich and drink in an Arms and Armor gallery of a museum. According to Norman Rockwell Museum’s Curator of Education Tom Day, Norman Rockwell made use of photos from the Higgins Armory in Worcester, Massachusetts as reference for the painting.
Through a great series of Bill Scovill photos in Norman Rockwell Museum’s Collection, Rockwell is also seen sweeping the surface of the painting with a straw broom. A small jar containing a dark liquid and a paint rag nearby suggest that he has applied this substance to the surface of the canvas. The broom serves to rough up this top layer of pigment. It appears that Rockwell was trying to achieve the dusky atmosphere found in a gallery in the middle of the night. Apropos of some of his unorthodox methods, Rockwell once said, “This way I paint is technically terrible, piling paint on varnish and varnish on paint, coat after coat, without adequate time for drying. John Atherton says that it’s a wonder my paintings don’t explode. Perhaps some day they will!” Rockwell’s methods may have, at times, been unorthodox but, by making it a point to varnish his painting as he progressed, he could easily remove his latest revision with turpentine without disturbing the image underneath.
View this and many more covers in the current exhibition,Norman Rockwell’s 323 “Saturday Evening Post” Covers.
Purchase Lunch Break with a Knight or Christmas (Knight Looking in Stain Glass Window) in our Museum Store