First Shave by Norman Rockwell
April 1919 Issue of Farm And Fireside
First Shave, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of Farm And Fireside published April 1919.
This was the second cover by Rockwell to appear on Farm And Fireside. Only five Rockwell covers were published by this magazine. Rockwell only submitted to this smaller magazine after the bigger publishers had declined to publish the cover illustration.
As anyone can see by his career, Rockwell's preference and first choice was The Saturday Evening Post. He correctly knew that the Post cover was America's biggest showcase window for artists.
The original oil painting is part of the collection of the National Museum of American Illustration.
This painting also appears in one Rockwell commentary book. It appears on page 30 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.
Available as Oil on Canvas:
Oil on Canvas Reproduction
All but one of the Farm And Fireside covers that Rockwell painted evoke childhood memories. He captures both pleasant and not-so-pleasant memories, sometimes all in the same painting. This painting is one of those that captures both.
Who can forget the thrill and sense of accomplishment of that first shave? After all, though it takes no real talent to grow facial hair, the event does indicate a certain coming of age.
That first shave also is also proof positive that the shaver is concerned about his appearance. Is there a special girl on this shaver's mind as he scrapes away at his fledgling whiskers? Or is he just hoping to meet that one special girl? Could it even be more than one?
The little dog (partially obscured by the mailing label) is looking directly at the viewer. I'm sure he doesn't understand why his otherwise sensible boy is mutilating his own face with that straight-edge razor. After all, a furry face is a happy face to a dog.
Having never used a straight-edge razor, most of us can only imagine the nicks and scrapes of this first shave. I have read that this type of razor gives the best, closest shave possible. But a close, comfortable shave would be possible only after somewhat mastering the manipulation of the razor. The boy's grimacing face informs us that he has not mastered this with his first try.
This painting was only one of numerous Norman Rockwell magazine covers;
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
As exciting as that first shave was, whether yesterday or fifty years ago, few of us get excited about a shave after it has become routine.
Norman Rockwell clearly conveys his subject matter to his target audience in this illustration.
Sorry about the mailing label. Rockwell Farm And Fireside covers are rare collectibles and very hard to find. I am pleased to even own one with a mailing label. Please contact me if you have any to sell.
Remember to check back often.
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.
More at BrainyQuote.
Images are copyrighted by their respective copyright holders.
Graphic Files Protected by Digimarc.
Contact us for details about using our articles on your website.
The only requirements are an acknowledgement and a link.