Can a painting be humorous?

Saying Grace, Norman Rockwell cover picture of The Saturday Evening Post published 24 November, 1951.  Oil on canvas.

Rockwell (1894-1978) was well known for his humorous subjects and most famous for his cover illustrations of everyday life for The Saturday Evening Post.  He was a prolific artist, producing more than 4,000 original works in his lifetime including illustrations for more than 40 books, including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  Rockwell’s work was dismissed by serious art critics in his lifetime as overly sweet and sentimental.  However, from the mid-1940’s he became more serious.  Saying Grace is considered one of his more serious works.

But is it?

Look at the reaction of the two young men sitting at the table with the grandmother and little boy.

Look closely at the incongruous cafe scene setting.

Saying Grace was last sold at a Sotheby’s auction in December 2013 for US$46m.


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