The Doctor’s Office "Before the Shot" by Norman Rockwell
“I guess everyone has sat in the doctor's office and examined his diplomas, wondering how good a doctor he was...” – Norman Rockwell
Before the Shot is a crucial iteration of one of Norman Rockwell’s most iconic images, which graced the cover of the March 15, 1958 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
Dropping his trousers and standing on a wooden chair in a doctor’s office while awaiting a shot—a dose of gamma globulin according to Rockwell, which was commonly applied to one’s bottom to treat various ailments—a young boy is depicted curiously inspecting the diplomas on the wall, while the physician prepares a hypodermic syringe. The work engendered a multi-faceted reaction from the American public: while it exudes humor and nostalgia upon first glance, further contemplation evokes the relatable feeling of patient anxiety. Though Before the Shot is undoubtedly a quintessentially American image, it is also a timeless painting that touches on universal themes—such as the notion of a trip to the doctor’s office as a great social equalizer—that are still relevant today.