Girl With Black Eye by Norman Rockwell
May 23, 1953 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post
Girl With Black Eye, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published May 23, 1953. This is yet another timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for all the ages.
The alternate title for this painting is The Shiner.
This painting was Rockwell's 277th 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 third cover for The Post in 1953. In 1953, there were four Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.
The original oil on canvas painting, 34 x 30 inches or 86.5 x 76 cm, is currently part of the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.
This painting also appears in four Rockwell commentary books. It appears:
Three different preliminary versions, studies, of this painting also appeared in Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt on pages 194.
Two 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 130 and 131. There is also an extensive section devoted to the memories of the model for this picture, Mary Whalen, who was also the model in Day in the Life of a Little Girl and Girl at Mirror . Mary was the daughter of Rockwell's attorney.
I have seen pristine original copies of this magazine cover sell for big bucks on eBay. To think that it only cost fifteen cents new! And it was mint condition then, too.
Girl With Black Eye
This classic Norman Rockwell painting shows a girl waiting for her appointment with the school principal.
The girl is sitting on the end of the bench that is closest to the principal's office. She is smiling. It almost looks like she is actually eager for her turn in the office.
She has obviously been involved in a fight at school. The black eye is the most obvious indication of the fight. There are other clues, though.
Her clothes are mussed. Her shirt tail has come un-tucked. Her socks have fallen around her ankles. And one shoe has come untied while the other has not.
Her hair has also become disheveled. One pig-tail has had its ribbon almost stripped off. And the rest of her hair looks like it is going in a hundred different directions.
She has a bandage on her left knee.
And a shiner.
We cannot see the other student, boy or girl, to determine who got the better of whom in the fight. This girl's grin, however, suggests that the other person is more banged up than she is.
We also cannot guess how the fight started, what the fight was about or who started it. We can be certain that the fight was not about sex or drugs. After all, this was the 1950's and a Norman Rockwell painting, after all.
The look on the face of the lady glancing out of the door to the office reveals a concern for the girl's welfare. This lady is probably the teacher. It was the custom for the teacher to accompany the student when visiting the office of principal.
Or the teacher may consider the school yard altercation to be her responsibility.
As is usual with a Norman Rockwell painting of this period, a meticulous attention to detail is evident.
The pattern of the tiles on the floor, the detail of the bench, the reflection of the bench back on the bench seat and even the bit of reflection of the bench leg on the polished tile all ad touched of realism.
Girl With Black Eye 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.
Perhaps as interesting as Rockwell's depiction of the whole scene is his rendition of the school bulletin board, complete with two drawings by children.
Also notice that there is a key hanging in plain view for anyone to use. The door it fits is plainly labeled on its accompanying tag.
Norman Rockwell's Girl With Black Eye (1953)
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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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