Triple-Self-Portrait-1960-Norman-Rockwel

Doctor and Doll by Norman Rockwell

  On March 9, 1929, The Saturday Evening Post cover was a Norman Rockwell vignette called "Doctor and Doll." It was one of hundreds of covers the artist painted on commission for that popular magazine. As was customary, the Post cover tells a story. A little girl, perhaps 7 or 8 years old, has brought her doll to the doctor's office. The doctor, a grandfatherly man with twinkling kindly eyes, is gravely listening to the doll's "heart" with his stethoscope.

 

   The trio float on a spatial island that, by deleting the room surrounding, concentrates the meaning of the image on the actors. Every object and article of dress works to reveal the status and character of the actors of this little drama. The viewer ("reader" Danto would call him) can read from the somewhat battered roll-top desk, the medical books, the candle sticks, the homey hooked rug, the doctor's chair with its worn rungs and armrests, that the central actor is a country doctor of comfortable but modest means, long in practice.

 

   He wears a fine black suit, a white shirt with crisp collar and cuffs, gold cuff links, well-shined black shoes, a natty cravat, and a signet ring on the little finger of his right hand. His face is ruddy, perhaps weathered (Rockwell often chose his models from New England villages), and its contours suggest a habitual cheerful benevolence, even humor. The sense of his humanity is accentuated by the shock of unruly gray hair that is in contrast with his sartorial fastidiousness.

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