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Freedom to Worship by Norman Rockwell

Freedom to Worship by Norman Rockwell    

Norman Rockwell Signature


February 27, 1943 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post:
The Four Freedoms Series


Norman Rockwell's Freedom to Worship was published on the pages of The Saturday Evening Post on February 27, 1943.

This painting was the second installment of Rockwell's famous Four Freedoms series.

The painting was also originally reproduced on a poster promoting the sale of war bonds during World War Two.

Freedom to Worship has also been reproduced in several Rockwell books:

  • on page 121 of The Norman Rockwell Album,
  • as illustration 405 of Norman Rockwell's America by Christopher Finch,
  • as illustrations 386 of Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner,
  • on page 145 of Norman Rockwell: Illustrator by Arthur L. Guptill,
  • on page 33 of Norman Rockwell, Storyteller With A Brush,
  • on page 83 of The Best 0f Norman Rockwell and
  • on page 770 of Norman Rockwell, A Definitive Catalogue by Laurie Norton Moffatt.

The illustration also appears in The Norman Rockwell Poster Book and 50 Norman Rockwell Favorites.

This painting also appears on page 47 of A Treasury of the Saturday Evening Post. A Treasury of the Saturday Evening Post also reproduces the original Post article by Will Durant that was published with the illustration.

An alternate title for the painting is Freedom of Worship.

The original oil on canvas painting, 46 x 35.5 inches or 117 x 90 cm, is housed in the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge, Mass.




Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms Paintings



Available as Oil on Canvas:
Oil on Canvas Reproduction

The Four Freedoms paintings were inspired by a speech given before the United States Congress on January 6, 1941 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In that famous and stirring speech, Roosevelt enumerated four basic freedoms to which every person was entitled.

The first was freedom of speech. Second was freedom to worship. Third was freedom from want. Fourth was freedom from fear.

The images and articles were presented in The Saturday Evening Post in the same order as President Roosevelt presented them in his speech.

Norman Rockwell's Hardest Freedom to Paint

Rockwell said that this painting was the hardest to finish of all the Four Freedoms paintings. This was the last of the Four Freedoms to be finished.

His first idea for this painting was a cheerful scene in a barbershop. In it would be different races and creeds, all getting along splendidly. The characters planned and partially painted included a white Protestant barber, a Jewish customer, an Afro-American customer, a Catholic priest and a white Anglo customer.

It wasn't long before people who saw the rough painting were complaining about Rockwell painting the characters as stereotypes. The Catholic priest looked too rough. The African-American should have lighter skin. Or darker skin. The Jewish man didn't look like the Jewish viewers wanted him to look. Norman Rockwell started all over from the beginning.

His second and third ideas didn't fare much better.

The Post editors were pressuring him to finish. There would be a deadline for publication, after all.

Then Rockwell pulled the final idea for Freedom to Worship out of his head. This rendering of the idea was wildly successful.




Freedom to Worship

Giclee Prints on Archival Paper:
At Art.com

The painting shows eight people, four women and four men. They are all praying. Each is praying in his or her own way. Some are praying with eyes open, some with eyes closed.

They are illuminated by a soft, golden light emanating from off the left side of the canvas.

Some have their heads bowed, one is looking upward. One holds rosary beads, one holds scripture.

Catholic, Protestant and Jew are all represented in the painting. Black and white are both represented. Freedom of religion is all encompassing.

At the top of the painting, Norman Rockwell has inscribed "EACH ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF HIS OWN CONSCIENCE." Rockwell said that he remembered reading it somewhere, but he didn't remember exactly where.

Another painting along the same line, both in style and subject matter, is Golden Rule..

Norman Rockwell's illustration of the right of people to worship as they choose without governmental interference was the most moving of the Four Freedoms series.

This picture was also printed on Office of War Information poster OWI Poster Number 43 O-510256.

The captions on the original war poster read as follows: "Save Freedom of Worship" above and "Buy War Bonds" underneath the illustration.


The February 27, 1943 Saturday Evening Post illustration by Norman Rockwell entitled Freedom to Worship

Buy it now at Art.com

Norman Rockwell's Freedom to Worship (1943)
(Image Only) Copyright © 1943 Saturday Evening Post & Curtis Publishing Company



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Norman Rockwell Quotes:


I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.

No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He's got to put all his talent and feeling into them!

Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I've always called myself an illustrator. I'm not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.

Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible.

The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.

I can take a lot of pats on the back. I love it when I get admiring letters from people. And, of course, I'd love it if the critics would notice me, too.

You must first spend some time getting your model to relax. Then you'll get a natural expression.

More at BrainyQuote.

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Norman Rockwell Christmas and Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving Galleries are open.

Norman Rockwell's painting, A Drum for Tommy or Santa with Drum, appeared on the cover of The Country Gentleman on 12/17/1921
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