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Two Boys on an Elephant by Norman Rockwell

August 16, 1919 Issue of The Country Gentleman



Two Boys on an Elephant, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Country Gentleman published August 16, 1919.

The Country Gentleman was published by Curtis Publishing Company. Curtis Publishing also published The Saturday Evening Post.

This painting was the fifteenth Country Gentleman cover by Norman Rockwell. Rockwell illustrated thirty-five covers for The Country Gentleman starting in August 1917, the first Cousin Reginald cover, and continuing through April 1922.

Two Boys on an Elephant

"Who wants to ride the elephant?"

These two boys were either the first ones to volunteer or the loudest. Either way, they won the prize. They are riding the elephant.

Circuses have always staged parades. Nowadays, the performers parade around the big top where the performance takes place. At the time this painting takes place, the circus often paraded from the train station to the circus grounds. The purpose of this parade was to make the whole town aware that the circus had arrived.

These two boys seem awed by their good fortune in riding the elephant.

The red-headed boy, seated in front, has removed his hat and placed it on the elephant's head. He is holding on to the strap provided for novice riders so they do not loose their balance when the elephant starts moving.

The second boy is holding tightly to the boy in front of him. An elephant is not a smooth ride until you get used to the rhythm. And it's a long way to the ground if you fall off.

While the boys seem to be enjoying the thrill of their elephant ride, the clown is hard at work. His expression conveys his all-business attitude. He is now responsible, not just for the elephant, but for two boys as well. His solemn expression contradicts his happy face makeup.

Norman Rockwell's mastery of the joys of boyhood shines in this painting. Rockwell painted real life, so where did he find an elephant? The circus must be in town .

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The Country Gentleman from 8/16/1919 featured this Norman Rockwell illustration, Two Boys on an Elephant

Norman Rockwell's Two Boys on an Elephant (1919)
Copyright © 1919 The Country Gentleman and Curtis Publishing Company

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