“Freedom from Want”, by Norman Rockwell Description and analysis of the painting
A| Historical context and background “Freedom from Want” is part of a collection of four paintings by Norman Rockwell: 1- “Freedom from Want” 2- “Freedom of Worship” 3- “Freedom of Speech” 4- “Freedom from Fear” These paintings were all inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech delivered in January 1941. This speech was made to boost patriotism in the context of World War II. The United States government later used the paintings as posters ( = propaganda ) to promote patriotism. In his speech, FDR listed four basic universal human rights. FDR also wanted to foster patriotism and ignite concern about the real threat of war. It is important to mention that this speech was delivered 11 months before the surprise Japanese attack on US forces in Pearl Harbor (December, 7th1941). Norman Rockwell translated FDR’s speech into visually vivid and accessible images.
B| Description and Analysis of the Painting “Freedom from Want" A grandmother is wearing an apron and presenting a tray with a roasted turkey to a family of several generations. This is an idealistic representation of family values. The grandfather (the patriarch) is standing behind the ready to carve turkey. He is looking with fondness and approval from the head of the table. The white tablecloth has creases [des plis] and this shows that it has been ironed – it is a special occasion. Rockwell painted white on white, which is a real challenge for a painter. On the table, there is a bowl of fruit with celery, pickles and what seems to be cranberry sauce. There is also silver cutlery [ British English ] / silverware [ Formal English ] / utensils [ American English ]. We have here a very traditional representation of a family gathering. Thanksgiving is, for American people, the occasion to share a meal with their loved ones and express their gratitude. To conclude, it can be said that this painting is the epitome /ɪˈpɪtəmi/ [the perfect example] of the traditional American celebration of Thanksgiving.
C| Extracts from FDR’s Speech “The Four Freedoms”
(…) I address you, the Members of this new Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the Union. I use the word “unprecedented,” because at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today. (…) In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world. (…)