Norman Rockwell Prints

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Norman Rockwell prints (American 1984-1978) speak of what many consider to be the finest and sweetest of American values. Enormously popular, Rockwell specialized in vignettes that depicted warm and humorous scenes of every-day life. Focusing on small town joys and sorrows, Norman Rockwell prints are a combination of sentimental idealism and finely drawn realism.

Primarily an illustrator, Rockwell had a weekly showcase as the cover artist for The Saturday Evening Post for over 40 years. This gave him the largest audience of any artist in history. His weekly covers depicted warm and humorous anecdotes of American life, so finely drawn that in many cases they resembled photographs.

Norman Rockwell Prints: The Four Freedoms

Inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union speech about the four basic freedoms that all human beings were entitled to, Rockwell painted his famous "Four Freedoms" posters. These Norman Rockwell prints symbolized for millions the war aims as detailed by the President: "Freedom of Speech", "Freedom of Worship", "Freedom from Want", and "Freedom from Fear". These pieces were first published as four consecutive S.E.P. covers, and then toured the country in exhibitions that raised 132 million dollars in war bond sales.

Although pleased with "Freedom of Speech", which depicts dramatically a working class man standing up to deliver what is apparently an unpopular opinion to a group of business types, and "Freedom of Worship", which, in uncharacteristically muted tones, features multiple profiles praying according to their conscience, Rockwell remained unsatisfied with the other two. "Freedom from Want" with its table of Thanksgiving bounty, concerned the artist that it might instead depict over-abundance; and "Freedom from Fear", with its two parents tucking their children into bed as the father holds a wartime newspaper in his hands, struck Rockwell as being too smugly confident. Nonetheless, the public didn't agree, and Roosevelt wrote Rockwell, thanking him for bringing the country closer to a "freer, happier world."


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