Mary Whalen Leonard on Posing for ‘Shiner’

"For once the little girl is victorious," says Mary Whalen Leonard of her portrait outside a principal's office.

The Shiner by Norman Rockwell

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Girl with black eye sits outside the principal's office
Shiner
Norman Rockwell
The Saturday Evening Post
May 23, 1953

Sometimes in life you have to take a beating — literally or figuratively — to stand up for the truth, yourself, a loved one, or something you truly believe in. And it’s always worth the cost of that battle, as this girl’s triumphant smile, even with that shiner, celebrates.

Mary Whalen Leonard, Norman Rockwell’s favorite female model, who posed for Girl at Mirror, Day in the Life of a Girl, and others, speaks fondly of posing for my grandfather’s illustration Shiner (above):

“My recollection of working out this picture with Norman [above] is one of laughter and fun. He showed me the sketch and wondered what I thought about it. I got it. It was about role reversal. For once the little girl was victorious, and it did not matter that she had a black eye. That was the mark of the trophy!

“These posing sessions were filled with lots of Norman’s laughter as he knelt on the floor and pounded his fists to get the smile he wanted …”

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