Roy Lichtenstein is known for his prints and paintings inspired by commercial and popular culture. Although the majority of Lichtenstein’s artworks maintain a certain air of parody, the thematic contents of his earliest prints differ greatly from his later artistic output.
Lichtenstein’s Knight With Lady from 1951 is a semi-fantastical illustration that hints at the artist’s notorious satirical sensibilities. The work features characters appropriated from historical paintings inserted into a surprising cubist narrative. Lichtenstein’s borrowed medieval iconography pokes fun at traditional Western portraits featuring the same subject matter.
The artist depicts a heroic knight rescuing a helpless maiden. They’re fleeing the scene on horseback with the help of the knight’s trusted stallion. The figures are abstract, verging on mythical, and their proportions are markedly unrealistic. The artist lends his angular composition and elementary forms a whimsical painterly quality, elevating these from serious to comedic. Knight With Lady works with naturalistic pigments, mirroring the colour scheme of 15th century textiles and tapestries.
Manufactured on white drawing paper, all pictorial elements are here distinctly delineated as a result of the printing method. Lichtenstein’s Approaching the Castleof the same year presents a similar gouged woodcut rendition of a knight’s tale.