Day in the Life of a Little Girl by Norman Rockwell
August 30, 1952 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Day in the Life of a Little Girl, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published August 30, 1952. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for all the ages.
This painting was Rockwell's 273rd overall out of 322 total paintings that were published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell's career with the Post spanned 47 years, from his first cover illustration, Boy With Baby Carriage in 1916 to his last, Portrait of John F. Kennedy, in 1963.
This was also the fourth cover for The Post in 1952. In 1952, there were five Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
The original oil on canvas painting, 45 x 42 inches or 114.5 x 106.5 cm, is currently part of the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge MA.
This painting also appears in three Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
Many of the photographs used in the painting of this illustration, as well as the painting itself, are reproduced in Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera by Ron Schick on pages 122 through 125. There is also an extensive section devoted to the memories of the model for this picture, Mary Whalen Leonard, who was also the model in Girl at Mirror and Girl with Black Eye. Mary was the daughter of Rockwell's attorney.
I have seen pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for big bucks on eBay. And to think it only cost fifteen cents originally! And it was mint condition then, too.
Day in the Life of a Little Girl
This painting, actually a series of narrative paintings, is aptly named. It continues the theme Rockwell started with Day in the Life of a Little Boy.
The story told in the painting starts with the girl.odeled by Mary Whelan still fast asleep. Then the little girl's day starts as she wakes up. She fixes her hair in the mirror and heads out the door.
The painting was published in August, so she is still enjoying her summer vacation. She is headed to the swimming pool. In the fourth illustration, we can see her running so fast that her pigtails are trailing behind. She is also enjoying a banana as her snack.
Next we see her donning her swimming cap. The next panel shows her holding her nose, raising her right arm and plunging into the water. As she returns, a boy she knows pushes her head back under the water. She re-surfaces with an angry expression and her index finger painting at the boy.
The next panel shows her returning the dunk to the boy. Chuck Marsh was the model for the boy.
Now things get interesting. The boy offers her a bite from his lunch, a hot dog.
The next panel shows the little boy and the little girl riding on his bike. Next we see their destination: the movie show. The boy pays their way into the movie.
Next we see the little couple sitting in the darkened theatre. They are eating popcorn and watching the movie wide-eyed.
Now the boy drops her off at home, but the story doesn't end there.
The next two panels show the little girl cleaning up and fixing her hair. We find out why in the next panel.
Now we see the little girl attending a birthday party. She is playing a party game with the same boy from the pool and the movies. We can also see other children in the foreground and in the background. Those other boys were modeled by Mary's twin brother Peter and Chuck Marsh's younger brother.
The next panel show the little boy walking the little girl home. Next he stops and kisses her on the forehead. She looks suprised and almost taken aback.
The last three installments in the story take place in the little girl's bedroom. First we see her writing in her diary and smiling. Apparently she has decided that she likes the little boy's affections and attentions.
The next panel shows her saying her goodnight prayers. Norman Rockwell caught some criticism for not including a good night prayer in Day in the Life of a Little Boy. So he remembered to include that part of his narrative in this composition.
Day in the Life of a Little Girl was only one of 322 Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers; Here is the list of Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations.
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
The last part of the story shows Mary alseep again, this time the lighting clearly indicating that it is nighttime. She also still shows a faint smile remembering her eventful day. She has also laid her party favor and her party whistle on her bed.
Norman Rockwell accurately imagined and portrayed this little girl's day, then he captured those events on canvas in style and emotion as only he was able.
Norman Rockwell's Day in the Life of a Little Girl (1952)
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Do you have a personal story about this painting? Do you know the model personally? Do you have a different take on the commentary?
Norman Rockwell Quotes:
I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.
No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He's got to put all his talent and feeling into them!
Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I've always called myself an illustrator. I'm not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.
Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible.
The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.
I can take a lot of pats on the back. I love it when I get admiring letters from people. And, of course, I'd love it if the critics would notice me, too.
You must first spend some time getting your model to relax. Then you'll get a natural expression.
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