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April 26, 2013

Rockwell’s Barbershop Quartet

Saturday Evening Post:

Norman Rockwell did such a remarkable job capturing the singers’ expressions as they hit the perfect note, we wish we could turn up the volume on this 1936 classic. Evoking the turn of the century era, perhaps the Gay ’90s, he is able to indulge his love of costumes and further authenticates the scene with meticulous attention to detail; the shaving brush and mug, straight razor, even a well-used comb that is missing a few teeth (click on images for larger view).

The cover models were all residents of New Rochelle, New York, where Rockwell lived and worked for the first 25 years of his career. The barber on the left was actually a barber by trade. The gentleman in the red vest, to his right, was a member of the town’s fire department. Rockwell’s assistant Carl Johnson made an appearance, too, wearing a bow tie and holding a comb. And on the far right we find customer Walter Beach Humphrey, a friend of Rockwell’s and an illustrator for the Post.

Rockwell slyly adds a touch of humor to the illustration with a rather naughty copy of The Police Gazette. From the mid-1800s through the 1920s in particular, the Gazette was a “gentleman’s” magazine focused on the lurid. It sensationalized murders and women outside the bounds of propriety, strippers and burlesque dancers, and like straight razors and lavender pomade, no old-time barbershop was without the latest issue. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at April 26, 2013 12:00 AM