Tuesday 4 October 2016

Saying Grace Voted #1 by Saturday Evening Post Readers

"There is a quiet order in the midst of chaos:  the variety of baggage, each person with a different coat and hat -- a unique visual identity -- the tableware, the cups of coffee." (Abigail Rockwell)

It's Thanksgiving Day 1951.  A woman and her son bow their heads in prayer as everyone looks on. "There is a quiet order in the midst of chaos." (http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2015/10/08/art-entertainment/real-rockwell/norman-rockwell-and-faith.html).

Norman Rockwell based his painting Saying Grace on the Horn and Hardart Cafe, a railroad restaurant, on Juniper Street in Philadelphia.  A Post reader told him about a Mennonite family who took time to pray in a bustling diner, inspiring the artist to paint the portrait.  Rockwell photographed the scene in his Vermont studio, trucking in tables and chairs from an Automat in New York City.  One of the young men in the painting is Rockwell's son, Jarvis.   The model who played the lady passed away before the painting was published.

As Abigail Rockwell, the painter's granddaughter, points out, the painting is an exercice in contrasts. Contrast the young boy with the bowed head to the young man with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  Contrast the woman's carpetbag and umbrella, to the young men who are travelling sans valises.  Contrast the woman and boy's old world clothing to the industrial progress evident just outside the window.  "There is a quiet order in the midst of chaos."  It's almost as if time has stood still as the patrons in the cafe all stare in reverence at the pair with the bowed heads.  

Saying Grace was voted the number one magazine cover by The Saturday Evening Post readers.  IN 2013, the painting went up for sale; experts thought it would go for between $15 and $20 million. However, in keeping with its popularity, the painting sold for $46 milliion.

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