Sunday, December 14, 2008
Freedom to Worship
This painting was the second installment of Norman Rockwell's famous Four Freedoms series. The Four Freedoms paintings were inspired by a speech given before the United States Congress on January 6, 1941 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In that famous and stirring speech, Roosevelt enumerated four basic freedoms to which every person was entitled.
The first was freedom of speech. Second was freedom to worship. Third was freedom from want. Fourth was freedom from fear. The images and articles were presented in The Saturday Evening Post in the same order as President Roosevelt presented them in his speech.
Rockwell said that this painting was the hardest to finish of all the Four Freedoms paintings. This was the last of the Four Freedoms to be finished. His first idea for this painting was a cheerful scene in a barbershop. In it would be different races and creeds, all getting along splendidly. The characters planned and partially painted included a white Protestant barber, a Jewish customer, an African-American customer, a Catholic priest and a white Anglo customer.
It wasn't long before people who saw the rough painting were complaining about Rockwell painting the characters as stereotypes. The Catholic priest looked too rough. the African-American should have lighter skin. Or darker skin. The Jewish man didn't look like the Jewish viewers wanted him to look. Norman Rockwell started all over from the beginning.
His second and third ideas didn't fare much better. The Post editors started pressuring him to finish. Then Rockwell pulled the final idea for Freedom to Worship out of his head. This rendering of the idea was wildly successful.
Today is a great day to celebrate your freedom to worship...and CITN is a great place in which to do it!