Richard Sargent (1911- 1978) is especially known today as an artful illustrator of around 30 covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Like many of the FORTUNE illustrators of the 'Thirties he had come to prominence through the WPA.In 1939 he created 'Men at Rest' (oil on canvas) for the Morrilton Post Office, now resited in the Conway County Courthouse. I give details beneath of Sargent on the WPA because the mural is so close to the FORTUNE commission in time.

Smith and Christ, Arkansas Post Offices, Arkansas Historic Preservation Society Publication "Sargent submitted a color sketch of his proposed design on Nov. 13, which Rowan accepted. He urged the artist to “please make every attempt to retain in the finished work the subtle charm of color harmony and fine arrangement and approach that is indicated in this sketch.” The artist submitted photos of the full-sized cartoon for the mural on Dec. 13, and Rowan again expressed concern for the sensibilities of Morrilton’s residents, writing that “you have made the center figure so obviously obese we fear the people of Arkansas might have the feeling that you are poking fun at them. I think it would be well for you to restudy this figure with the idea of reducing it somewhat in mass.” Sargent’s first payment of $200 was approved on Dec. 27, 1938; the second, for $150, was processed on Jan. 7, 1939.
On Jan. 10, 1939, Sargent submitted a “word account” of his mural, its name now officially changed from “Thirsting Men” to “Men at Rest”: “ ‘Men at rest’ is my conception of a scene that is familiar to anyone who has worked in the sun and a scene which I believe will strike a sympathetic note in the heart of any one who has ever done a good day’s work. It is a picture of three stout men whose existence depends almost entirely upon the good earth so I have presented them in the presence of the sun and the fields and all those things that are so important in their lives. The incident is simple and refreshing.” The artist added that he did not “have any great lesson to teach neither do I have any thought of the ever present class struggle. I only want to make a big decoration which people will enjoy looking at.”

The mural was installed by April of 1939, and according to the Morrilton Headlight was well accepted. However, the newspaper editor noted that those local residents with whom he talked “could not ... refrain from voicing their disappointment that the Treasury Department rejected the sketch of Petit Jean Mountain or some other scene that would have been representative of Conway County.” Sargent and his wife — “two amiable young persons”— attended the dedication of the mural, the editor noted, and “were favorably impressed with the city of Morrilton and seemed especially desirious of having the painting meet with general approval of its inhabitants.”

Two problems arose after the mural was installed. First, it was discovered that the post office’s lighting fixtures hung to low and obscured the mural. The building custodian received a four-dollar contract to shorten the light rods and improve the setting for the artwork. Sargent was also taken to task for leaving a ragged border on the wall surrounding the mural; the artist hired a local sign painter, a Mr. Dow, to repair and repaint the wall. Sargent received his final payment of $240 in April 1939.