Farnsworth Lecture: Rockwell’s “New York Central Diner”

Norman-Rockwell-MagazineOn Thursday, October 1, the Farnsworth Art Museum will present a lecture entitled: Norman Rockwell’s “New York Central Diner.” The lecture, by Stephanie Plunkett, Chief Curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum, will take place in the Farnsworth auditorium at 2 p.m.

Using a dining car from the New York Central’s Lake Shore Limited as his setting, famed American illustrator Normal Rockwell (1894-1978) captured a moment in his own son�s life that he thought would touch a common cord. Inspired by H. K. Browne’s illustration of a similar scene in Charles Dicken’s “David Copperfield,” Rockwell’s painting describes a young boy’s first experience of calculating a waiter’s tip.

At Rockwell’s request the New York Central diverted a dining car bound for Albany to New York City where he and his ten-year-old son Peter met it for a model shoot. Once there, he decided the 20th Century Limited was too modern and requested an older model. The first three dining car waiters he interviewed were unsuitable for the role. The following week an older car and a twenty-eight year veteran waiter were provided, all to Rockwell’s satisfaction. In appreciation for the efforts of the Railroad, Rockwell included a postcard of their 20th Century Limited locomotive on the boy’s table and the Post credited them in the cover’s caption resulting in $10,000 worth of publicity for the New York Central.

Stephanie Plunkett will talk discuss the rare and revealing full-scale preliminary study for this work that is in the Farnsworth’s “Maine Collects” exhibition, which is on display through March 6, 2016.

The fee for this program is $8; $5 for Farnsworth members. Will call tickets may be purchased online at farnsworthmuseum.org, but must be picked up at the museum�s Main Lobby admission desk the day of the event. Advance tickets are also for sale in the museum store. Tickets will be for sale on the day of the lecture in the museum’s main lobby.