Friday, March 7, 2014


Upstairs over our garage we have a bonus room. It is long and narrow with a low ceiling, and when I first saw it, I thought that it would make an excellent library. The next few months after we moved in, I spend a lot of time in the garage making and staining bookshelves. Lane was afraid that once I got the shelves loaded with books, the garage ceiling would cave in. I assured her that I would securely fasten each bookshelf to the wall, so that its weight would be borne by both floor and wall. Over the years after my first flurry of making bookshelves, I have from time to time built more shelves and installed them in the library until there is hardly a square foot of wall space which does not contain a bookshelf loaded with books.

The book situation makes it difficult to find wall space to hang pictures. A few years back, when I started working on Lincoln's Most Famous Case, I decided that I wanted a print of the most famous artwork depicting Lincoln's most famous case. You can probably tell from the title of this post that the picture is a painting by Norman Rockwell. In the painting Lincoln stands at counsel table tall and straight in his white suit. One of his hands is made into a fist, and it rests on a law book lying on counsel table. In his other hand he holds the almanac, open to the page which he will use to destroy the testimony of the state's star witness. He stares resolutely at the witness sitting offstage in the witness stand, and he appears to be preparing to spring his trap. In the background sits his forlorn client, manacled hands clasped in prayer and head bowed. Since the painting is copyrighted, I'm not going to reproduce it here. If you'd like to see (or buy) a copy of the painting, you can see it at the Norman Rockwell Museum Store  under the title Lincoln for the Defense.

When I got the picture, I realized that there was really not a good place to hang it in the office. I put it away, still encased in the mailing tube, and eventually forgot that I had it. I didn't forget the picture, though. I wanted to use it as an illustration for Lincoln's Most Famous Case, but the royalty far exceeded my budget. The book is an academic text, not expected to hit anyone's bestseller list, and while I don't expect to get rich from the book I don't want to go broke on it, either.

The other day I stumbled across my print of the picture and determined to get it framed. If I couldn't figure out a good place for it at home, I could hang it in the office. The framer called this afternoon, and I went to inspect it. I had initially planned to simply put a cheap frame around it with no matting, but my better judgment prevailed and I had it done nicely. I think the picture turned out well.

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