09 December 2010


Norman Rockwell Painting Smackdown, Round 4
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, the Interlude, Round 3A, and Round 3B)

Last week's lesson is that Jackson Pollock just isn't palatable, even in parodies: The Connoisseur put up a brave battle against The Tattoo Artist, but was beaten in the end. But you don't want to hear about that now that The Moment of Truth is upon us.

Remember that after you cast your final vote in our smackdown, your last chance to earn points for the "100+ Followers, 10+ Friends" Giveaway will be to link up a Locus Focus post this weekend.

Forgotten Facts about George Washington
The Runaway

I guess it really is Wild Card Month--and not just for Locus Focus. Our smackdown finalists are both wild card picks: one which would have made it into the original "No Swimming" Sixteen, had I not been so scrupulous about those boy scouts, and another which made it in entirely on its own merits. But there can only be one . . .

Right now you're probably thinking that I'm going to let this round be nice and straightforward for you. ROFLMAO!!! Not likely, when my own favourite Norman Rockwell EVER hasn't been featured yet.

The Jury Room

When I saw this painting for the first time, ten years ago, it was Love at First Sight. The woman in this scene is the best "girl" Rockwell has ever done. I love the expression on her face: I think I've been trying to live up to it for the past decade. But only recently did I learn that Rockwell painted it at a time when women were still not able to sit on juries.

The only reason this painting has to sneak in now, at the very end, is that I couldn't find anything else to pair with it.

Okay, my cheesy friends . . . Your verdict?

Image Sources: a) Forgotten Facts about George Washington, b) The Runaway, c) The Jury Room


EegahInc said...

I always dance with the one who brought me, so I'm sticking with George, if for no other reason than I feel the story is more open ended in that work than in the other two.

pennyyak said...

I haven't recovered from the last one, and you present three! Bad, bad, En.

1. The jury pic. a tad on the sexist side - but I like her resolution. Maybe that makes it something else.

2. I don't think there was ever a time policeman took boys who ran away from home to get ice cream. I am a cynic.

3. George, by a personal landslide.

Paul Stilwell said...

I know one thing for sure, and that's I'm sick of seeing the Washington painting. So that one is out.

The new one reminds me of someone in a way that is almost eerie.

My vote is forthcoming.

I contend - in a friendly way - with pennyyak's take on The Runaway. It's not cynical to think that, precisely because the painting isn't saying that at all.

Belfry Bat said...

Can I vote for No Swimming anyway? I think that one was my favourite.

Enbrethiliel said...


Eegahlnc: That's an interesting impression! I would have said that since George and Sally are historical figures, the story is actually more closed. The Runaway kind of contains its own ending: the boy will grow up to be someone like the diner owner or the policeman. But The Jury Room . . . I honestly have no idea how such a impasse would end! Nobody in that room is going to back down. The judge might have to pop in to say that new evidence has come in or that a confession was made or that the case was dropped.

Penny: There's another reader who accuses me, on regular basis, of being a bad influence, so you're probably right. =P

I think The Jury Room is a great reflection of what men feared would happen if women were allowed on juries--and in that sense, it's not sexist so much as honest. But do you mean that it's sexist towards men or towards the woman?

As for The Runaway, I always thought that they all ran into each other in the diner, completely by accident rather than by anyone's design. (Except Rockwell, of course: his design is obvious!)

Stilwell: You know, I was just thinking the same about George! LOL! Shall this be one of those final votes in which I regret having opened the combox? ;-)

I shall await your vote in great excitement.

Belfry Bat: Oh, no you don't! =P I mean, you can, of course . . . but it won't be counted.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

The Jury Room is great, very meaningful. But I'm a romantic soul, so I'm choosing George the lover.:)

EegahInc said...

"I would have said that since George and Sally are historical figures, the story is actually more closed."

Historically, yes. Emotionally, I'm not so sure. We don't know the outcome of this particular evening nor what the participants carried with them forever afterwards as a result. Just one of those things we don't know about George.

Salome Ellen said...

As art: George
As social commentary: Jury Room
As the epitome of Rockwell: The Runaway by a nose

Enbrethiliel said...


Irena: I'm a huge romantic, too, but I think I have George burnout now! LOL!

Eegahlnc: Yes, that's true. I know Sally regretted her choice at the end of her life.

Ellen: Oh, I know exactly what you mean! =D That is why I'm so glad that these three are grouped together here. I think I've already said everything I've got in praise of Forgotten Facts . . . The Jury Room is much better than even his anti-racism paintings . . . but The Runaway is, if you're seeking the distilled essence of Rockwell, pretty much what you're looking for, aye? =)

Paul Stilwell said...

You know, I wonder why Rockwell made so much of The Runaway washed out with regards to colour? Why didn't he have it as fully coloured, like The Jury Room? It definitely gives The Runaway a very honed, sniper focus.

But when I look at The Jury Room, there's just so much wonderful detail; not superfluous at all, but you can see all of it was brought in with zest and joy. All that crumpled paper and cigarette butts; the smoke in the air...he's gone over every nook and cranny with storytelling.

Yet both images are quite alike with respect to people leaning over towards a single individual (is that Rockwell leaning over the lady's shoulder?).

As with The Runaway, I wish there was little bit less obvious gesture in The Jury Room. That guy with his hand sticking out is a bit too much over-the-head-with-the-2X4, much in the same way that that cop is leaning over too much in The Runaway.

I'm going mostly on my feeling with this vote. The grey zone in The Runaway, while I understand it, comes across as just too handicraft - illustration. The Jury Room exercises full painterly reach.

The Jury Room.

pennyyak said...

Jury room:

My first impression was that it was sexist - toward women. I have a vivid flash of all the times at car dealerships and insurance agencies, and some man has treated me as though I didn't have the brains or the right to sign on the dotted line.

But, yes, I think it is a picture more of defiance, and the men are treated none too kindly in it. I suppose they are Rorschach, when you start projecting, but I do that to almost every painting I see - we do to the Mona Lisa.

They met in the diner? Could be. It is a picture of great innocence and friendliness (male bonding?) - I don't find it unpleasant, and I can bask in it's warmth if I like. Again, my first thought is "it never happened" - there are no eras of innocence. I suppose it irritates me because I have heard TOO many times how much better it was in the (40's, 50's, fill in the blank), a time when there were separate facilities for people of color where I live, etc etc etc.

Still for GW. He's about as innocent as Madoff, but delightfully.

Enbrethiliel said...


Stilwell: Don't forget her red shoes! I love them! And one of the other juror's red socks. A curious detail. Do they indicate that he is sympathetic to her and might be one of the first to change his mind?

And yes, that could be Rockwell right behind her! =D

What a difference a degree of "leaning" must make. George is leaning in, too, I've just noticed, but there's definitely more storytelling restraint in his posture.

Penny: I think The Jury Room is multi-layered. The men are obviously very impatient with the "little lady" among them, but people looking at the painting are more inclined to side with the woman than with them. She is completely convinced of something, which is what we want our jurors to be at the end of every trial; but the other eleven look like they just want to get out of the room.

Or perhaps I'm just being unfair to the men. If eleven different people were convinced by the same evidence and arguments, then the last person's skepticism makes us wonder. Maybe the woman is wrong.

I've always thought that the story behind this is that an innocent man with all circumstantial evidence against him is about to go to jail for many years--and only the lady juror can see it. But it's "just" women's intuition, and so none of the male jurors take it very seriously.

On the other hand, it could be what many men of the time feared: that she is letting emotions and sympathy cloud her judgment.

Whichever the case, I love the power struggle in the composition.

CMinor said...

Definitely the Runaway. It's quintessential Rockwell, and I like the color contrast.

Though I'll admit Jury Room is pretty quintessential Rockwell, too--all those different facial expressions.

Lesa said...

What Salome said!!

Dang, E, you just can't take it easy on us, can you! Such different categories to pick from!

As far as I'm concerned each one is a win in it's category but if I have to pick just one: The Jury

Mainly since it is new to me and also it reminds me of one of my fave old films, Adam's Rib with Tracy and Hepburn. It is about two competitive married lawyers on opposing sides of the same case-- very clever and funny.

Enbrethiliel said...


Cminor: Not to mention the possibility--pointed out by Stilwell--that Rockwell also painted himself into The Jury Room!

Thanks for your vote. =)

Lesa: Yay! One vote for The Jury Room! =D

Oh, Adam's Rib is possibly my favourite Hepburn/Tracy movie! (I'll have to re-watch both this one and Woman of the Year to be sure.) But when I was comparing The Jury Room to movies, I had in mind Twelve Angry Men--but the twist here is that there are eleven angry men and one determined woman!

Enbrethiliel said...


I should have said, one more vote for The Jury Room. I wonder why I was under the impression that Stilwell had voted for The Runway earlier.

The Western Confucian said...

I'll cast my vote with The Runaway, simply because it's the most characteristically Rockwellian of the paintings.

Lesa said...

Yeah, the theme is more 12 angry men. the era and her clothing made me think of Adam's Rib. When were women allowed on juries anyway-- seems like the jury in Adam's Rib was all male-- kinda funny if a female could be a lawyer but not be on a jury-- wonder if the movie mirrored the real world in that regard.

Paul Stilwell said...

Yes, her red shoes are smoking!

The red socks are there purely for harmony purposes - I'm positively sure of it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Western Confucian: Thanks!

Hmmmm. Now it seems I need another tie-breaker.

Lesa: I never thought about that angle before! I've just done some quick googling: if my research is accurate, then the movie was made in the 1940s and women were allowed on US juries in the 1960s. How odd, indeed, if women could be lawyers but not jurors!

Stilwell: There is a lot of red in the room. Red usually means aggression, but you're right that the effect in this painting is pretty harmonious.

mrsdarwin said...

At first I was quite taken with The Jury Room - that's s lot of drama crammed into a small package. But, on further analysis, that's the problem. It starts to feel cluttered and overwhelming, with all the action tightly concentrated in on the woman. Love those red shoes, though.

George I won't spend any more time on. I'm weary of him and his wooing.

The Runaway is the most quintessentially Rockwell of the three. Sure, it may hearken back to a mythically innocent time, but that's at the heart of many of Rockwell's most beloved paintings. I like the boy's red bundle on the floor, just isolated enough that you know the situation will have a satisfactory resolution. There's that red again - it would be interesting to know what significance red held for Rockwell.

I vote for The Runaway.

Enbrethiliel said...


You made it just in time, Mrs. Darwin. Thanks! =)

And now for an important announcement . . .