Sunday, March 1, 2015 Favorite Rockwell

Apologies for the title.  This is a companion post to "My Least Favorite Rockwell," so I couldn't just call it "My Favorite Rockwell."  It wouldn't have the proper symmetry.

In an upcoming post, I will talk about one of his best paintings: "Shuffleton's Barbershop."  And I'm tempted to say that's my favorite.  But as much as I love that picture, I have to say that of all the Rockwell canvases I have seen, one of them stands out as having been perhaps the most stunningly beautiful.

This picture, sometimes called "Christmas in Bethlehem," sometimes called "Uneasy Christmas in the Birthplace of Peace," and probably sometimes called other things still--Rockwell didn't name his pictures, so it's a bit of a free for all--was published in Look Magazine in 1970.

It's been several years since I saw it, and I might revise my opinion whenever I get to see it again.  But for now, thinking back on this picture--which I saw in a traveling exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art--I remember finding the golden glow so warm and rich that I was overwhelmed by it.  This is a painting that should convince anyone of Rockwell's extraordinary power.

The picture is fascinating to me as a critic obsessed with the "meaning" of pictures.  Perhaps in a future post I'll talk about that side of things.  But for today, I just want to hold this up before you as a Rockwell canvas that can be appreciated without getting into the narrative at all.  It's simply a beautiful painting.  You should go see it.

Floridians, I believe it may be at the Tampa Museum of Art at the moment in a traveling exhibition called American Chronicles, which opens on March 7.

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