Doctor and Doll by Norman Rockwell
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!
This illustration has been reproduced in many Rockwell commentary books,
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
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.
Doctor and Doll 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.
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.
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.
Norman Rockwell's Doctor and Doll (1944)
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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.
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