1994 50¢ Norman Rockwell
Issue Date: July 1, 1994
City: Stockbridge, MA
Printed By: Ashton Potter
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 10.9 x 11.1
On January 6, 1941, as World War II raged in Europe, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress. He submitted that any settlement reached after the war should be based upon "four freedoms": freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Norman Rockwell created four paintings, each titled after one of the freedoms, that visually idealize the concepts of Roosevelt's speech. More than one million people saw the paintings on a 16-city tour to promote war-bonds. The tour was a tremendous success, and over $130 million was raised for the cause.
By the 1930s Rockwell was doing covers for the Post almost exclusively. In 1930 he met and married Mary Barstow Rhodes. They had three sons, and interestingly, many of his Post covers from this period reflect the change in his point of view - from observer to participant. By the end of the ’30s he had produced the mature style for which he is best remembered.
Honored by the Art Director’s Club in 1940 for the best advertising poster of the year, Rockwell soon shifted his focus to World War II subjects. G.I. Willie Gillis and Rosie the Riveter were some of the characters who found expression in his work.
The years following the war were filled with social and intellectual changes, many of which are reflected in Rockwell’s work. During this time he produced some of his best-known covers. In 1963, the Post ended its 47-year relationship with him, however he continued to work for magazines such as McCall’s and Look. The last cover he painted was for American Artist in 1976. That same year the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts held a parade in his honor. The longest parade in the town’s history, it lasted more than two hours. On November 8, 1978, Norman Rockwell died at his Stockbridge home at the age of 84.
Rockwell’s Four Freedoms
In 1942, Norman Rockwell began a series of four paintings that pictured ordinary Americans in scenes portraying the ideals for which the United States had gone to war. Called The Four Freedoms, the series included Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want.
Unlike much of his other work, these paintings were not designed as illustrations, but rather as original works of art. More than one million people saw the original paintings in a 16-city tour on behalf of war bonds. So successful was the tour that over $130 million was raised for the cause. Publishing the paintings as inside illustrations, The Saturday Evening Post generated an equally impressive response from its readers. Government agencies that had turned down the series when Rockwell offered it to them soon realized their error, for these powerful images struck a chord that reverberated around the country.
Despite a devastating studio fire in 1943 in which he lost many irreplaceable paintings and sketches, as well as his entire collection of books, antique costumes, and props, Rockwell continued his war effort. His most memorable covers from the war years include Rosie the Riveter, Home for Thanksgiving, and Homecoming G.I.
Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms
On January 6, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave his “Four Freedoms” speech while delivering the State of the Union Address.
By January 1941, World War II had wreaked havoc across the globe. Germany invaded Poland, Belgium, and Holland. Additionally, France had been defeated by a German blitz, leaving England the lone nation against Germany. The Soviet Union invaded Finland, and Japan was ruthlessly battling China.
In America, President Franklin Roosevelt was just elected to an unprecedented third term. Across the nation, Americans did not want to get involved in the war, although the President earnestly tried to convince them that completely ignoring the war was dangerous to other nations as well as America. He knew America would eventually be forced into the war and, more than anything, worried the nation would not be ready.
When President Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union address on January 6, 1941, he stressed the serious nature of the situation and that “at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today.” He continued to explain that the US must assist the Allied nations in defeating the Axis powers from taking over all of Europe.
President Roosevelt continued with perhaps one of his most famous speeches, saying, “In these future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.” Those freedoms are the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to worship God in one’s own way, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. He concluded his speech stating that “Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept, there can be no end save victory.” Roosevelt’s speech resonated around the world, offering hope to civilians suffering under Nazi oppression.
The following year, Norman Rockwell began a series of four paintings that pictured ordinary Americans in scenes portraying the ideals for which the United States had gone to war. Called The Four Freedoms, the series consisted of Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want.
Unlike much of his other work, these paintings were not designed as illustrations, but as original works of art. More than one million people saw the original paintings in the 16-city tour to promote the sale of war bonds. The tour was so successful that it raised over $130 million for the cause. Publishing the paintings as inside illustrations, The Saturday Evening Post generated an equally impressive response from its readers. The government agencies that had turned the series down when Rockwell offered it to them soon realized their error – these powerful images struck a chord that reverberated around the country.