"Freedom of Worship," Norman Rockwell

"Freedom of Worship," Norman Rockwell. 1942. Oil on canvas, 46" x 35 1/2". Story illustration for "The Saturday Evening Post," February 27, 1943. ©1943 SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.- Norman Rockwell Museum Director and CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt has been invited by the Roosevelt Institute of New York City, New York, to join the American delegation to the 2010 International Four Freedoms Award ceremonies, to be held in Amsterdam and Middelburg, The
Netherlands, from May 26 through 29, 2010. Ms. Norton Moffatt was selected to participate in the delegation in recognition of the important contributions made by Norman Rockwell through his iconic Four Freedoms paintings, which interpreted the ideals described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his famous January 6, 1941 address to Congress.

In the course of his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed that in order for democracy to flourish, all people must be guaranteed four basic rights: freedom of worship, freedom of speech and expression, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. In 1942, artist Norman Rockwell was inspired to illustrate Roosevelt’s four freedoms, in order to rally citizen support the war effort. The paintings became a phenomenal success after being reprinted in the pages of “The Saturday Evening Post ,” and the original works were subsequently sent on a national tour to help sell war bonds and stamps. Widely considered some of Rockwell’s most iconic works, the paintings are now part of the permanent collection at Norman Rockwell Museum, where they reside in their own special gallery space designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern.

Since 1982, the Roosevelt Institute has bestowed the Four Freedoms Award on global citizens who have worked to ensure these freedoms remain intact. The 2010 Four Freedoms laureates are: The European Court of Human Rights, represented by its president Dr. Jean-Paul Costa (International Freedom
Medal); Novaya Gazeta of Russia and its editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov (Freedom of Speech and Expression); Dr. Asma Jahangir of Pakistan (Freedom of Worship); Maurice Strong of Canada (Freedom from Want); and Dr. Gareth Evans of Australia (Freedom from Fear). To learn more about the awards and American delegation, visit: www.RooseveltInstitute.org

About Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

In the spring of 1942, Norman Rockwell was working on a piece commissioned by the Ordnance Department of the United States 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 President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “four freedoms.”

Finding new ideas for painting 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 simple, everyday scenes such as his own town meeting. Rockwell made some rough sketches and, accompanied by fellow Saturday Evening Post artist Mead Schaeffer, went to Washington to propose his poster idea.

Unfortunately, the timing was wrong, as 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 publication. Rockwell was given permission to interrupt his work for the magazine, typically one cover per month, for three months. But the artist “got a bad case of stage fright,” and it was two and a half months before he even began the project.

Rockwell’s paintings were a phenomenal success. 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 one thousand original cartoons and paintings by other illustrators, and original manuscripts from The Saturday Evening Post, on a national tour. Traveling to sixteen cities, the exhibition was visited by more than a million people who were inspire to purchase $133 million worth of war bonds and stamps.