Norman Rockwell Paintings With Titles For Essays
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More In Norman Rockwell
Rockwell Video Minute: The Marriage License
Norman Rockwell captures the contrast between a gloomy municipal office and the joy of a young couple applying for their marriage license. More
Norman Rockwell Goes to the Dogs
Norman Rockwell loved his dogs, and many of them ended up on the covers of the Post. Here are some of our favorite furry friends. More
Rockwell Files: Coming Home
Millions of veterans would have smiled in recognition at the Post's December 15, 1945 cover, having recognized one of those humorous incidents faced when trying More
Rockwell Video Minute: Golden Rule
In 1961, Norman Rockwell created a painting that reminded us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. More
Rockwell’s Four Freedoms
75 years ago, the painter transformed abstract ideas into concrete images that helped galvanize a nation. More
Rockwell Video Minute: Was Rockwell’s Mermaid Cover Obscene?
Readers’ outraged responses to Norman Rockwell’s mermaid cover surprised The Saturday Evening Post editors and Rockwell himself. More
Booth Tarkington’s ‘Freedom of Speech’
In 1943, the Post commissioned Pulitzer Prize winner Booth Tarkington to craft this essay to accompany Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech painting. More
Carlos Bulosan’s ‘Freedom from Want’
In 1943, the Post commissioned Filipino novelist and poet Carlos Bulosan to craft this essay to accompany Norman Rockwell’s ‘Freedom from Want.’ More
The Four Freedoms Essays
Inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, Norman Rockwell painted four images depicting those freedoms. These paintings went on to inspire all of America More
Will Durant’s ‘Freedom of Worship’
In 1943, the Post commissioned historian Will Durant to craft this essay to accompany Norman Rockwell’s ‘Freedom of Worship.’ More
Rockwell Video Minute: Christmas Homecoming
Nothing lights up a holiday home better than the presence of family and friends. Join us as we explore the details of Norman Rockwell’s heartwarming More
Rockwell Video Minute: Freedom from Want
We celebrate Thanksgiving with Norman Rockwell’s paean to family, security, and prosperity, “Freedom from Want.” More
Rockwell Finally Appears as Himself in Triple Self-Portrait
Rockwell's Triple Self-Portrait appeared in the February 13, 1960 Post issue with whimsy and subtext galore. More
Rockwell Video Minute: Happy Halloween
Like many artists before him, a young Norman Rockwell tried his hand at a Halloween cover for the Post. More
Rockwell Video Minute: Wanderlust
Norman Rockwell often yearned to get away from work, a longing reflected in many covers, but none more so than the image of a hiker More
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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.
Freedom of Speech
February 21, 1943
Freedom of Worship
February 27, 1943
Freedom from Want
March 6, 1943
Freedom from Fear
March 13, 1943
Rockwell spent six months painting the Four Freedoms, which were published in a series of Saturday Evening Post issues in 1943, accompanied by short essays from four distinguished writers. 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. Rockwell’s homey depictions of Roosevelt’s abstract concepts were widely popular across America, yet not everyone was completely in tune with the ideas elaborated in Roosevelt’s speech.
In an editorial published later in 1943 (reprinted below), Post editors addressed a controversy over the meaning of the freedoms, in a debate that still has relevance today. Is the dream still alive? As then, we are certainly permitted to hope and aspire to the same ideal today.
The Four Freedoms Are an Ideal
For millions of people throughout the world the Four Freedoms have come to represent something which gives meaning and importance to the sacrifices which the human race is now making, but these freedoms are by no means universally accepted as worthy aims for nations at war. Indeed, a not inconsiderable number of people regard the Four Freedoms as actually evil, an effort to deceive people into imagining that they will never again have to take thought for the morrow, since government will provide everything for them.
Few people object to the first two freedoms mentioned by President Roosevelt in his message of January 6, 1941. Freedoms of Speech and Religion are familiar to Americans and are already guaranteed to them. Some people wondered whether the President’s phrase “everywhere in the world” meant that the United States would be called on to fight until such liberties as we enjoy became the right of millions in Asia, Russia, and Eastern Europe. But what the President said was that we “look forward to a world” in which these freedoms are taken for granted. In as much as we Americans have prided ourselves on looking forward to such a free world ever since we became free ourselves, it is difficult to see that Mr. Roosevelt said anything very alarming when he led the world to hope that Freedoms of Speech and Religion might someday be the possession of men everywhere.
The real controversy, of course, rages about the other two freedoms: Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. The assumption by those who are alarmed at their inclusion in a body of doctrine is that they imply that men are to be guaranteed not merely against “want” in the literal sense, but against lacking anything they happen to desire at any given moment. Freedom from Fear, these critics affect to believe, implies that the Government is fraudulently promising to remove all the hazards of life which men have feared in the past.
If we believed that either Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear meant that the New Deal was promising to pass a miracle which would end the necessity of individual work or foresight, reward the lazy and incompetent as richly as the able and conscientious, and set up a “welfare state,” we should be as dubious about the Four Freedoms as are some of our correspondents. Some New Dealers may misconstrue these freedoms, but there is little ground for such an interpretation. After all, “economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants” are as nearly realizable as “the full dinner pail” or “a chicken in every pot”— phrases seldom associated with radical welfare schemes. In fact, such understandings have been the professed goal of American statesmen for many years.
As to Freedom from Fear, it seems to us to contain no meaning more revolutionary than that suggested by Norman Rockwell’s touching artistic interpretation, in the picture of the parents regarding the untroubled sleep of their children. Mr. Roosevelt expressed Freedom from Fear as translatable into “a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point…that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor.” Nothing about guarantees against fear of measles, graying hair or the consequences of laziness or incompetence.
If there is genuine confusion about the meaning of the Four Freedoms, some of it is doubtless explained by failure to note that Mr. Roosevelt, in listing these objectives, used the expression, “we look forward to a world.” Well, so do the rest of us look forward to a world in which men shall respect the right of others to their own opinions; a world in which better use shall be made of the machinery of production, so that lack of necessities which are so easily produced shall be the lot of nobody who can and will contribute his labor; a world organized politically, so that men need not fear the horrors of destruction by weapons of war.
Few of us expect such a world to be attained all at once, by fiat of the executive or by mere use of phrases. But all of us are permitted to hope, in the midst of an unprecedently cruel and destructive war, that the peoples of the world will eventually understand their problems sufficiently to solve some of them. Thus interpreted, the Four Freedoms represent pretty well what men have always hoped for—political liberty, a better standard of living and an end to war. We should think all Americans could get together on such an expression of human aspiration.
Norman Rockwell | World War II