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Doctor and Doll by Norman Rockwell

Doctor and Doll by Norman Rockwell
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March 29, 1929 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

Doctor and Doll, a Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post published March 29, 1929. This is a timeless favorite of Rockwell collectors, a classic for the ages.

This painting was Rockwell's 114th overall picture out of 322 total featured on the cover of The 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 painting was Rockwell's fourth cover for The Post in 1929. In 1929, there were twelve Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers published.

I have seen pristine original copies of this cover sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay. And to think it only cost five cents originally!

The original oil on canvas painting, 32 x 26.25 inches or 81 x 66.5 cm, is owned by a private collector but has been housed and displayed at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

This illustration has been reproduced in many Rockwell commentary books,

  • on page 39 of The Norman Rockwell Album,
  • as illustrations 177 and 178 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner,
  • on page 19 of 50 Norman Rockwell Favorites,
  • on page 34 of The Faith of America by Fred Bauer ,
  • on page 209 of Norman Rockwell 332 Magazine Covers by Christopher Finch,
  • on page 137 of Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People by Maureen Hart Hennessey and Anne Knutson and
  • on the cover of Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective by Thomas Buechner and
  • on page 114 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

It is also reproduced in The Norman Rockwell Poster Book and in Norman Rockwell's autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator on page 222.

Pop Fredericks was the model for the doctor. Rosemary Hunter was the model for the little girl. We do not know the doll's name.

Doctor and Doll

Giclee Prints on Archival Paper:
At Art.com

Available as Oil on Canvas:
Oil on Canvas Reproduction

This classic Norman Rockwell painting shows an old doctor, apparently a general practitioner, seated in his office, attending a patient from his wooden Windsor chair.

The doctor's current patient, the little girl, is holding another patient, her doll, out for him to examine. She watches intently as her doll's doctor listens attentively to the doll's heart through his stethoscope.

Observe that the little girl comes to his office and stands up before the doctor. This would tell us that she is coming in for a check-up. If she was sick, she would be home in bed and the doctor would pay a house call.

She may even be slyly testing his skills by letting him examine her doll first. Will he pass this test?

The doctor has his large black bag laying on the rug on the floor. Apparently this was painted when doctors still made house calls to visit patients. In the background we see the old doctor's old-fashioned roll-top desk. Perched on top of his desk are nine thick books, two brass candlesticks, and two pictures.

Rockwell's works often featured paintings inside of paintings. The painting on the left side of the desk appears to represent a group of doctors painted in an entirely different style from Rockwell's. The three characters in the picture look like they are standing on tip-toes and peering over the doctor's shoulder to try to see what the doctor is doing.

Behind the volumes of books, hanging on the wall, is the doctor's "Registration" document, according to its title, in a large wooden frame.

The doctor is well dressed, wearing a dark suit and cravat. His black shoes are highly polished.

With his head craned to the right and upwards, he concentrates on his patient, the doll. He is trying hard not to avoid looking amused.

From all indications in the painting's details, it is very cold outside, maybe even flu season. The doctor's other patient, the little girl, is dressed for the cold weather. She wears heavy shoes, stockings, wool skirt, jacket, scarf, and matching red beret and mittens.

She has removed her doll's dress to help the doctor to better closely examine her doll. The doll dress is held close to her left side with her elbow.

Dare we guess at his diagnosis?

Norman Rockwell's Earliest Documented Use of Photography In Composition

At this point in his career, Norman Rockwell painted his compositions exclusively from live models and props. He painted what he could see in front of him. However, he departed, ever so slightly, from that method with this painting.

The photographic image associated with Doctor and Doll...

represents Norman Rockwell's earliest known use of photography as a reference in creating his artwork. When he painted Doctor and Doll in 1929, Rockwell was still working primarily from life, and it's likely that he painted Pop Fredericks, the professional model who posed as the doctor, from life. However, as Rockwell indicated years later in a letter to Rosemary Hunter, the model for the little girl, she was fairly young to have to hold still for so long, which may have been the reason he employed photography for her pose.
-From The Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge, Mass

The photographs in question were taken by the professional phtotgraphy firm, Rosch Studios. Rosch Studios were based in New Rochelle/New York where Rockwell lived and worked at the time.

The March 29, 1929 Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell entitled 12551693

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Norman Rockwell's Doctor and Doll (1944)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1919 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company

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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.

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Norman Rockwell Christmas and Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving Galleries are open.

Norman Rockwell's painting, A Drum for Tommy or Santa with Drum, appeared on the cover of The Country Gentleman on 12/17/1921
Norman Rockwell Santa Claus
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