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Norman Rockwell (1894–1978)
The Curtis Publishing Company
Save Freedom of Speech, 1943
color lithograph
101.6 x 72.4 cm (40 x 28 1/2 in.)
Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University

In a historic address before the Congress on January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt described the "unprecedented" threat that Nazi domination of Europe presented to American security. In doing so, he appealed directly to core beliefs that Americans hold about the freedoms of speech and worship, as well as the freedoms to fight against fear and want. Norman Rockwell offered to produce a series of four paintings with American scenes to illustrate the "Four Freedoms." First distributed by the Saturday Evening Post, the posters were later effectively used by the U.S. government to sell war bonds.

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Biography of Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was born in New York City, where he began his art training in 1908 at the Chase School of Fine and Applied Art—taking classes there in addition to his regular high school studies. In 1910 he quit high school to study art full-time at the National Academy School, but later that same year transferred to the Art Students League. Rockwell's career advanced rapidly; at nineteen he became art director of Boy's Life, and at twenty-two he painted a cover for the Saturday Evening Post—the first of 324 covers he created for that magazine. Rockwell's posters, while not as numerous as his magazine illustrations, were done for a wide variety of organizations and issues. Early in his career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he made posters for products such as Coca-Cola and Maxwell House coffee. His movie posters include those for Along Came Jones (1945), The Razor's Edge (1946), and Stagecoach (1966). He also created posters for Parents' magazine and McCall's, as well as for the Red Cross and the National Reserve.

Rockwell received many honors, including the 1969 Artist of the Year award from the Artists' Guild of New York and the Freedom Award from President Gerald Ford. A museum devoted to his work, the Norman Rockwell Museum, was established in Philadelphia in 1976. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, opened in 1993 and now holds the world's largest collection of original Rockwell art.

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