Each of these four War Bonds posters by Norman Rockwell is a visual representation of the closing remarks of President Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union speech. Delivered to Congress on January 6, 1941, Roosevelt painted his vision for a post-war world, one in which every human was guaranteed basic freedoms:
Upon hearing the speech, painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell decided to lend his artistic talents to the war effort and set out to paint all four freedoms. This inspiration took the form of small-town scenes like town meetings and church services. Rockwell prepared rough sketches in 1942 and then traveled to Washington meet with the Ordinance Department of the U. S. Army in hopes of gaining a commission for the work. The Department had no money to back Rockwell’s idea. Not to be dismayed, Rockwell scheduled a meeting with the publisher of the popular Saturday Evening Post, Curtis Publishing Company, on his way back to Vermont. The editor, Ben Hibbs, agreed to publish Rockwell’s paintings as full covers and gave him three months paid time to work on the paintings.
The popularity of the four covers prompted over 25,000 requests for reprints. In May 1943, the Saturday Evening Post and the Treasury Department launched a joint campaign to sell war bonds and stamps, using the four freedoms imagery. This campaign included a traveling exhibition of the original Four Freedoms paintings, accompanied by other cartoons, sketches and original manuscripts, to sixteen cities across the United States. Bonds were sold in denominations of $25, $100, and $1,000. Each person who purchased a bond received a set of prints of the four paintings. Thanks to the exhibition, 133 million dollars in war bonds and stamps were purchased. Concurrently, the Office of War Information printed sets of posters of the four paintings. Each poster was printed with the words “Buy War Bonds” and the sets were distributed in United States schools and institutions, as well as overseas.
These posters, original 1943 color lithographs, illustrate the four freedoms:
Freedom of Speech: The poster reads “SAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH/ BUY WAR BONDS” and depicts a man expressing his opinion at a town hall meeting.
Freedom of Worship: The poster reads “SAVE FREEDOM OF WORSHIP/ BUY WAR BONDS” and depicts a gathering of individuals in joint prayer. Across the image reads the line “Each According to the Dictates of His Own Conscience” in white block text.
Freedom from Want: The poster reads “OURS… to fight for/ FREEDOM FROM WANT” and depicts a warm and bountiful family meal.
Freedom from Fear: The poster reads “OURS… to fight for/ FREEDOM FROM FEAR” and depicts a husband and wife tucking their children safely into bed, in a peaceful domestic setting.
These original color lithographs are in very good condition. Color is original and still vibrant. Original fold lines and creases slightly visible. Paper is healthy with no tears or foxing marks. The posters are conservation mounted and linen backed. Posters measure 28"H x 20"W each.
The posters have been artfully framed to conservation standards in matching custom-built black wooden frames. Framed dimensions: 30" H x 22" W x 2" D each.