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Freedom from Want
Artist Norman Rockwell
Year 1943
Type oil on canvas
Dimensions 116.2 cm × 90 cm (45.75 in × 35.5 in)
Location Norman Rockwell Museum,
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
United States

Freedom from Want or The Thanksgiving Picture is one of Four Freedoms paintings by Norman Rockwell that were inspired by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the State of the Union Address, known as Four Freedoms, he delivered to the 77th United States Congress on January 6, 1941.[1] The other paintings in this series were,

  1. Freedom of Speech
  2. Freedom from Fear
  3. Freedom of Worship

Freedom from Want was published in the March 6, 1943 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post with a matching essay by Carlos Bulosan as part of the Four Freedoms series.[2] The image was included as the cover image of the 1946 book Norman Rockwell, Illustrator that was written when Rockwell was "at the height of his fame as America's most popular illustrator."[3] Rockwell claims to have painted the Turkey on Thanksgiving and unlike Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship this painting was not difficult to execute.[4]

Critical review

Of the four paintings, this is the one most often seen in art books with critical review and commentary. The painting has become a nostaligic symbol of an enduring American theme of holiday celebration.[3] Although all four images were intended to promote patriotism in a time of war, Freedom from Want, which depicts an elderly couple serving a fat turkey to what looks like a table of happy and eager children and grandchildren has given the idealized Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving work as important a place in the enduring marketplace of promoting family togetherness, peace and plenty as Hallmark at Christmas.[5] Outside of the United States, this image is perceived as a depiction of American overabundance.[4] This painting depicts the common positive Rockwell themes of American prosperity and dependability for a generation who looked to Rockwell to appeal to their traditional values. This image of family life is an example of the regionalism and idealism that dominate Rockwell's work.[6] Rockwell summed up his own form of idealism best: "I paint life as I would like it to be."[7]

The painting represents the theme of family continuity, virtue, homeliness and abundance without extravagance in a Puritan tone (as confirmed by water as the modest beverage choice).[8] The abundance and unity it shows were the idyllic hope of a post-war world and this image has endured for generations of reproductions.[5] One of the esteemed elements of the image is his use of white on white.[4]

This image's iconic status has led to parody and satire. New York painter Frank Moore recreated Rockwell's all-white Americans with an ethnically diverse family, as "Freedom to Share" (1994), in which the turkey platter was brimming over with healthcare supplies.[9] Among the better known reproductions is Mickey and Minnie Mouse entertaining their cartoon family with a festive turkey. However, several political cartoons and even frozen vegetable advertisements have invoked this image.[4]


  1. ^ "100 Documents That Shaped America:President Franklin Roosevelt's Annual Message (Four Freedoms) to Congress (1941)". U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, L.P.. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  2. ^ "Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms: Images That Inspire a Nation"., Inc.. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  3. ^ a b Guptill, Arthur L. (1972). Norman Rockwell, Illustrator (seventh ed.). Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. cover, vi, 140-149.  
  4. ^ a b c d Hennessey, Maureen Hart and Anne Knutson (1999). "The Four Freedoms". Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. with High Museum of Art and Norman Rockwell Museum. pp. 94–102. ISBN 0-8109-6392-2.  
  5. ^ a b Rosenkrantz, Linda (2006-11-13). "A Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving". Canton Repository. The Repository. Retrieved 2008-04-07.  
  6. ^ Dempsey, Amy (2002). "1918-1945: American Scene". Art in the Modern Era. Harry N. Abrams, Inc.. pp. 165. ISBN 0-8109-4172-4.  
  7. ^ Wright, Tricia (2007). "The Depression and World War II". American Art and Artists. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-0-06-089124-4.  
  8. ^ Hughes, Robert (1997). "The Empire of Signs". American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 508–509. ISBN 0-679-42627-2.  
  9. ^ New York Times: "Mirror, Mirror: Rockwell without Irony"


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