Freedom from Want – Do traditional holidays in art bring about the vision of this scene?
What is it about this painting that resonates from generation to generation?
Rockwell’s idealistic presentation of family values is expressed in Freedom From Want. The family scene sums up the perfect idealism of the American family in harmony with each other. The painting depicts three generations of a family around a table at Thanksgiving. The father is standing at the head of the table as the mother is about to place a large turkey in front of him.
Embodying nostalgia for an enduring American theme of holiday celebration, this painting is one of the hallmarks of Rockwell’s career.
All of the people in the painting were friends and family of Rockwell in Arlington, Vermont, who were photographed individually and painted into the scene. Rockwell’s wife Mary is in this painting, and the family cook, Mrs. Thaddeus Wheaton is serving the turkey, which the Rockwell family ate that day. The nine adults and two children depicted were photographed in Rockwell’s studio and painted into the scene later.
Why did Norman Rockwell Paint Freedom from Want?
In January 1941, FDR delivered his State of the Union address in which he outlined his idea of the Four Freedoms, which included freedom of speech, of worship, from fear, and from want. To symbolize the Four Freedoms, Rockwell was chosen for his symbolic paintings. Rockwell spent six months painting the Four Freedoms, which were published in a series of Saturday Evening Post issues in 1943.
Freedom from Want is considered one of Rockwell’s finest works. As one of the four paintings in the Four Freedoms, it is the one most often seen in art books with critical review and commentary. Although all were intended to promote patriotism in a time of war, Freedom from Want became a symbol of “family togetherness, peace, and plenty”, according to Linda Rosenkrantz, who compares it to “a ‘Hallmark’ Christmas”.
Norman Rockwell – A Quick Rundown
He was born in New York City on February 3, 1894 and died November 8, 1978. He is known to be talented at a young age, and he received his first commission at age 17!
Norman Rockwell illustrated American life for over 47 years at The Saturday Evening Post. He produced more than 4,000 original works in his lifetime. Most of his works are either in public collections, or have been destroyed in fire or other misfortunes.