Doctor and Doll is part of the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The triangular composition depicts an elderly general practitioner seated in a Windsor chair. A little girl is holding her doll out to him, watching intently as the doctor pretends to listen to her doll's heart through his stethoscope. The fact that the little girl comes to his office and stands up before her doctor suggests that she is coming in for a check-up.

The doctor's large black bag on top of the rug by his feet indicates he makes house calls. Behind the two figures is an old-fashioned desk. On top of the desk are several thick volumes, two brass candlesticks, and two pictures. The image on the left may represent a group of doctors in the style of Rembrandt. On the wall we see a large, framed document which has the word "Registration" on it.

The doctor is wearing a dark suit, cravat, and highly polished, black shoes. He turns his head to the right and upwards as he concentrates on his task. His patient, the little girl, is dressed in heavy shoes, stockings, wool skirt, jacket, scarf, and red beret and mittens. She has removed her doll's dress and holds the dress close to her left side with her elbow. The colors of the painting are dark, but the doctor's head with its gray hair, the doll, and the child's serious face are illuminated.

The girl's red beret, mittens, and the doctor's ruddy cheeks and nose give warmth to the picture. Clearly, the doctor is empathetic and kind, and the little girl trusting. Rockwell paints the ideal country doctor taking time to reassure his young patient that he will do her no harm. His gray hairs make him look fatherly.


Norman Rockwell's two-year, six-city retrospective reached the Guggenheim Museum in 2000. This event renewed debate about the value of his artistic contribution - is he an artist or an illustrator? Though sometimes devalued as an artist because of his popularity and optimistic depictions of small-town American life, Rockwell as an illustrator has no peer in 20th century American art. His 323 covers for the Saturday Evening Post and his Civil Rights paintings have helped define the American experience. This magazine cover illustrates Norman Rockwell's artistic goal, as he tells us: "The view of life I communicate in my pictures excludes the sordid and ugly. I paint life as I would like it to be." (see:


Saturday Evening Post cover March 9, 1929

Primary Source

Medicine: A Treasury of Art and Literature, eds. Ann G. Carmichael and Richard M. Ratzan (New York: Hugh Lauter Levin Associates) 1992, p. 355.