Four Freedoms: Norman Rockwell

Cher’s Famous Art


Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell

During this time of uncertainty, one thing is alive and well in all of us, no matter who we are – or where we live. That is our desire for FREEDOM.

Since this blog began in 2020, I’ve included several of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations and paintings. They represent Art in Life as it developed in us and around us during the COVID pandemic and incidents in our life and world. I realized that I had not included all four of his most famous ones together in one post – as they were created and meant to be presented. As many of our personal and national freedoms seem to be threatened and endangered, I honor them with their separate blog page!

Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms are a series of oil paintings by American artist Norman Rockwell in 1943, during World War II. Published in the Saturday Evening Post for 4 consecutive weeks, they quickly became a touring exhibition across the United States. They earned over $132 million in war bonds.

The name “Four Freedoms” originated from the January 1941. United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his “Four Freedoms State of the Union Address.” The main focus was that essential human rights must be universally protected. It was so far-reaching that it became first part of the Atlantic Charter. Later, it became part of the charter of the United Nations.

The Four Freedoms are the best know works of Rockwell. His Freedom from Want has provided him with an enduring legacy of what we commonly call a “Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.”

All four are oil paintings and are 45 3/4″ x 35 1/2″ in size.

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was a popular American painter illustrator whose folksy and often humorous illustrations endeared him to the public. His works have broad appeal for their reflection of America’s culture. His cover illustrations of everyday life, created for The Saturday Evening Post for nearly 50 years, are his most famous. Sadly, he was lightly regarded as a fine artist by fellow-artists and art critics during his lifetime. Fortunately, this reputation has been reversed in recent years and his talent is much .

Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA is home to the Norman Rockwell Museum. This art museum is dedicated to the art of Norman Rockwell and is home to the world’s largest collection of original Rockwell art. (Details at Rockwell lived in Stockbridge from 1953 until his death in 1978.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech – 1st to be published.

Based on a real life story, the inspiration for Freedom of Speech came to Rockwell in a local town meeting in Arlington, Vermont. It portrays a working class man as he stood up, voiced an unpopular opinion, and addressed a crowd of well-dressed fellow-Americans. It can be seen at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

More on this painting and topic in my 12 April 2021 blog Freedom of Speech in Art

Freedom to Worship

Freedom to Worship – 2nd to be published.

Rockwell conveys our constitutional right to religious freedom in this painting by referencing multiples religions. It depicts multiple people in prayer including a woman praying with her hands folded with rosary beads (Catholicism) and a man stroking his beard, symbolic of agnosticism. The phrase at the top, “Each according to the dictates of his own conscience,” is sources from the “Thirteen Articles of Faith” by Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church of the Latter Day Saints. It is also a part of Norman Rockwell Museum collection.

Freedom from Want

Freedom from Want – 3rd to be published.

It is the most famous and earned Rockwell the enduring and endearing niche of what we often call a “Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving – America’s national holiday! The scene depicts three generations observing the holiday – and enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The occasion is symbolized by the huge centerpiece – a roasted turkey!

It embodies, as the title notes – freedom from want – not freedom for excess. Rockwell is reported to have once said “I paint life as I would like it to be.” This is seen in the people in this painting. They portray joy in sharing what they have with those they love.

Rockwell bequeathed this painting to a custodianship that became the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and it is now part of the museum’s permanent collection.

More on this painting on my 26 November 2020 blog Art for Thanksgiving.

Freedom from Fear

Freedom from Fear – 4th and last to be published.

The painting is generally described as depicting American children being tucked into bed by their parents during World War II while the Blitz rages across the Atlantic Ocean in Great Britain. It is in a private collection.

More on this painting and topic on my 28 March 2020 blog Art for Freedom from Fear.

Rockwell’s painting of life for the everyday American were common themes in my blogs during the pandemic. See Related Posts below for other blogs showcasing Rockwell’s iconic works of art.

Related Posts for Rockwell Art

Sources Cited

  • Google Images for works of art
  • Data from various lectures of Cher B, professor of art history.
  • Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA – website

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