Inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “Four Freedoms” speech delivered to Congress on the eve of World War II, Norman Rockwell created four paintings depicting simple family scenes, illustrating freedoms Americans often take for granted.
The U.S. government subsequently issued posters of Rockwell’s paintings in a highly successful war bond campaign that raised more than $132 million for the war effort.
Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Speech appeared on the pages of The Saturday Evening Post on February 20, 1943. This painting was the first installment of Rockwell's famous Four Freedoms series.
For inspiration for Freedom of Speech, Rockwell recalled a recent town meeting in Arlington, Vermont where he lived at that time. He remembered how his neighbor, Arlington resident Jim Edgerton, had stood up during the meeting and aired an unpopular opinion
Rockwell was worried that this painting would appear to portray smugness that American children slept safely while the children of the rest of the world lived in a battlefield.
The model for the father in this picture is said to appear in all four of the Four Freedoms paintings.
Freedom from Want is one of Norman Rockwell's best loved and most recognized compositions.
Mrs. Thaddeus Wheaton, the Rockwell family cook, was actually the model for the grandmother serving the turkey. Rockwell was known for using friends and family in his paintings.
The painting features some people praying and showing their devotion to their respective gods. Inevitably, it was difficult to demonstrate different races and religions through painting, but Rockwell did quite a good job in depicting diversity in this regard.
Rockwell portrayed an idyllic version of small-town America. In his sweet, safe universe, no child is ever in danger and no task is more pressing for an officer of the law than to spend a morning with a young runaway.
New Kids in the Neighborhood
These new kids are moving into the neighborhood and, well, it’s interesting to ponder what the white kids are thinking. A great lesson in point of view, acceptance and friendship lay in this image for today’s children.
This is a very touching and thoughtful Norman Rockwell paintings. It was also voted the favorite Saturday Evening Post cover of all time by readers of that magazine.
The dominant emotion that this painting evokes is reverence. That reverence is not just shown by the grandmother and her grandson. Reverence also exudes from every other character in the diner.
Shows a girl waiting for her appointment with the school principal. The girl is sitting on the end of the bench that is closest to the principal's office. She is smiling.
Attention to detail!
A group of people of different religions, races, and ethnicity served as the backdrop for the inscription "Do Unto Other as You Would Have Them Do Unto You." Rockwell was a compassionate and liberal man, and this simple phrase reflected his philosophy.
The Rockwell in the mirror has foggy glasses. Rockwell’s reasoning for that was so “I couldn’t actually see what I looked like..."
Norman Rockwell illustrated covers for The Saturday Evening Post for 47 years. The public loved his often-humorous depictions of American life.
He was born in New York City on February 3, 1894. In 1916, he created the first of 321 covers for the Saturday Evening Post.
Rockwell's success stemmed to a large degree from his careful appreciation for everyday American scenes, the warmth of small-town life in particular.
Often what he depicted was treated with a certain simple charm and sense of humor.
His work became the centerpiece of what is now called the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. In 1977—one year before his death—Rockwell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford
Ford said, "Artist, illustrator and author, Norman Rockwell has portrayed the American scene with unrivaled freshness and clarity. Insight, optimism and good humor are the hallmarks of his artistic style. His vivid and affectionate portraits of our country and ourselves have become a beloved part of the American tradition."