World War II was a time when numerous amazing paintings were created. And we couldn’t leave this fantastic series without our attention.
The Four Freedoms is a series of four oil paintings created by the American artist Norman Rockwell in 1943. It was completed in seven months and resulted in him losing fifteen pounds. The series was inspired by a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In this speech, Roosevelt described and articulated Four Freedoms for universal rights.
The paintings were published in 1943 by The Saturday Evening Post. Freedom of Speech was the first of the Four Freedoms paintings. It depicts a scene of a local town meeting in which Jim Edgerton, the lone dissenter to the town selectmen’s announced plans to build a new school, was accorded the floor as a matter of protocol. He is shown “standing tall, his mouth open, his shining eyes transfixed, he speaks his mind, untrammeled and unafraid.” Edgerton is painted in a way that resembles Abraham Lincoln.
This painting was followed by Freedom of Worship or Freedom to Worship. It shows the profiles of eight heads in a modest space. By the way, these figures represent people of different faiths at the time of prayer. In particular, three figures on the bottom row (from right to left): a man with his head covered carrying a religious book who is Jewish, an old woman who is Protestant, and a young woman with a well-lit face holding rosary who is Catholic.
Freedom from Want, also known as The Thanksgiving Picture or I’ll Be Home for Christmas is the third work of the series. The painting depicts a group of people gathered at the table for a festive dinner. It has become an iconic representation for Americans of the Thanksgiving holiday and family holiday gatherings in general.
And finally, Freedom from Fear became the last of the well-known Four Freedoms oil paintings. The artwork is generally described as depicting American children being tucked into bed by their parents while the Blitz rages across the Atlantic in Great Britain. The newspaper’s headline reads “Bombings Ki … Horror Hit”, referencing this tragic event.
This series has been the cornerstone of retrospective art exhibits presenting the career of Rockwell. These are his best-known works, and by some accounts became the most widely distributed paintings. At one time they were commonly displayed in post offices, schools, clubs, railroad stations, and a variety of public and semi-public buildings.