Norman Rockwell made some great paintings. I'll post about my favorite Rockwell soon. But I thought I'd talk first about my least favorite. This idea came out of a recent conversation with a friend who told me her least favorite Rockwell is the image I discussed in Rockwell's Gay Sailors. I mentioned my least favorite picture in turn. But then a funny thing happened. I realized not only that it was not as bad as I thought, but that I'd never properly looked at it before.
I believe that not really looking at Rockwell's paintings is a common fault among his detractors. (I make that point in this post.) But I'm not silly enough to make that mistake! Or so I'd have said until recently. Mea Culpa.
Rockwell painted a lot. So it's no surprise that he made plenty of fair to middling pictures, but one has always stood out for me as the worst. It's this one.
The picture was published in 1919 as a cover for the Literary Digest. It is an illustration for "The Story of the Lost Battalion." If you're unfamiliar with the Lost Battalion, you should definitely read about what happened--this was a very real episode which led to 7 Congressional Medals of Honor, and multiple Distinguished Service Crosses. It's no wonder there was a cover story about it in a major magazine.