Result 1 of 1
Title Freedom of Speech
Type of Object (i.e. drawing, painting, etc.) Painting
Creator Rockwell, Norman (b.1894, d.1978)
Production Date 1943
Role of Creator Artist
Secondary Creator Curtis Publishing Company
Description Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

In his January 1941 address to Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt articulated his vision for a postwar world founded on four basic human freedoms-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear. In the spring of 1942, Norman Rockwell was working on a piece commissioned by the Ordnance Department of the U. S. Army-a painting of a machine gunner in need of ammunition. Posters of the gunner, titled “Let’s give him Enough and On Time,” were distributed to ordnance plants throughout the country to encourage production. But Rockwell wanted to do more for the war effort and decided he would illustrate Roosevelt’s four freedoms. Finding new ideas for paintings never came easily but this was a greater challenge. “It was so darned high-blown,” Rockwell said, “Somehow I just couldn’t get my mind around it.” While mulling it over, Rockwell, by chance, attended a town meeting where one man rose among his neighbors and voiced an unpopular view. That night Rockwell awoke with the realization that he could paint the freedoms best from the perspective of his own hometown experiences using everyday, simple scenes such as his own town meeting. Rockwell made some rough sketches and accompanied by fellow Post cover artist Mead Schaeffer, went to Washington to propose his poster idea.

The timing was wrong. The Ordnance department didn’t have the resources for another commission. On his way back to Vermont, Rockwell stopped at Curtis Publishing Company, publisher of The Saturday Evening Post and showed his sketches to editor Ben Hibbs. Hibbs immediately made plans to use the illustrations in the Post. Rockwell was given permission to interrupt his work for the magazine-typically one cover per month-for three months. But Rockwell “got a bad case of stage fright,” and it was two and a half months before he even began the project. “It was a job that should have been tackled by Michelangelo,” he said in a New Yorker interview three years later.

The paintings were a phenomenal success. After their publication, the Post received 25,000 requests for reprints. In May 1943, representatives from the Post and the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a joint campaign to sell war bonds and stamps. They would send the Four Freedoms paintings along with 1000 original cartoons and paintings by other illustrators and original manuscripts from the Saturday Evening Post on a national tour. Traveling to 16 cities, the exhibition was visited by more than a million people who purchased 133 million dollars in war bonds and stamps. Bonds were sold in denominations of $25, $100 and $1,000, and each person who purchased one received a set of prints of the four paintings. In addition, the Office of War Information printed four million sets of posters of the paintings. Each was printed with the words “Buy War Bonds.” They were distributed in U.S. schools and institutions and overseas.
Credit Line Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust
Measurement Description Image Size: 45.75 x 35.5"
Media / Materials Description Oil on canvas
Bibliography Saturday Evening Post, The; 20 February 1943, p.85
The Norman Rockwell Album; Rockwell, Norman; 1961; p. 119
Norman Rockwell's America; Finch, Christopher; 1975; illus. 204
Norman Rockwell: Artist & Illustrator; Buechner, Thomas S; 1970; illus. 384, 283
Norman Rockwell Illustrator; Guptill, Arthur; 1946; p. 143
Norman Rockwell: America's Best-Loved Illustrator; 1997; p.8
Norman Rockwell: A Life; 2001; pp.356-357
Norman Rockwell: Storyteller with a Brush; Gherman, Beverly; 2000; p.33
Norman Rockwell: The Life of an Artist; Rozines Roy, Jennifer; 2002; p.25
The Faith of America; Bauer, Fred; 1980; p.128
Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms; Murray, Stuart, McCabe, James C.; 1993; color plates
Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People; Hart Hennessey, Maureen, Knutson, Anne; 1999; p.101
Norman Rockwell: America's Most Beloved Painter; Ann Marling, Karal; 2005; p.36
Norman Rockwell; Ann Marling, Karal; 1997; p.102
Norman Rockwell's World War II; Meyer, Susan; 1991; p.87
American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell; Pero (Szekely) Linda; 2007; p.101, p.118
Collection Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust
Subject Person (model) Benedict, Bob
Martin, Jim
Brown, Harry
Hoyt, Rose
Hess, Carl
Hess, Henry
Subject Category Town meetings/Meetings/Events/Activities/LoC TGM
City & town life/Manners & customs/Activities/LoC TGM
Democracy/Economic & political systems/Politics & government/Activities/LoC TGM
Public speaking/Communication/Activities/LoC TGM
Public opinion/Communication/Activities/LoC TGM
Working class/Social classes/People/LoC TGM
Freedom of speech/Civil liberties/Liberty/Concepts/LoC TGM
Signature/Marks Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell Definitive Catalog Number S565
Accession Number NRACT.1973.021
System Identification Number 258
Other Id S565
Other Id Notes Plate 62
Other Id Type Def Cat
Related Objects Freedom of Speech; Tearsheet; Feb 20 1943
Four Freedoms Posters; Poster/Document; Office of War Information; 1943
Freedom of Speech; Print; Rockwell, Norman (b.1894, d.1978)
Freedom of Speech; Collotype/Print; Circle Gallery
Freedom of Speech; Painting; Rockwell, Norman (b.1894, d.1978); 1942
Freedom of Speech; Prints/Print
Freedom of Speech; Prints/Print
Freedom of Speech; Painting; Rockwell, Norman (b.1894, d.1978); 1942
Freedom of Speech; Painting; Rockwell, Norman (b.1894, d.1978); 1942
Norman Rockwell Illustrated Ephemera: War Bond Poster, re: Freedom of Speech; United States Office of War Information; 1943
Personal Note; Note/Document
Poster for Unesco with Freedom of Speech for Human Rights Day; Poster/Document
Reference photo for Freedom of Speech; Negative; 1943
Reference photo for Freedom of Speech; Negative; 1943
Reference photo for Freedom of Speech; Negative; 1943
Reference photo for Freedom of Speech; Negative; 1943
Reference photo for Freedom of Speech; Negative; 1943
Reference photo for Freedom of Speech; Negative; 1943


Result 1 of 1