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Before the Shot 1958
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

By 1958, Norman Rockwell had captured the ideal of the family doctor in numerous illustrations for magazine covers and for pharmaceutical and life insurance ads. His 1929 painting of a doctor examining a little girl's doll gained iconic status in the twentieth century, appealing to our notion of doctors as empathic professionals who took time from nurturing our bodies to nurture our souls. It hinted at our emerging understanding of the link between the psyche and our physical well-being and, therefore, its importance to our prognosis. It further affirmed Rockwell as an interpreter of a society that preferred a mythological view of itself to the real thing. But in 1958, when Before the Shot appeared in print, it was clear that Rockwell was closer to depicting a more realistic version of everyday American life. Aside from its overt humor, the painting's subject documents the common use of penicillin in the treatment of infection following its first use in treating soldiers' wounds during World War II. This painting was intended to be the final painting for publication, but it was abandoned before it was completed. Since this version is so close to the published version, it isn't clear why Rockwell decided to begin again from scratch.

Oil on canvas
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