Jack Greiner is a leading First Amendment attorney whose daughter Katie, also a lawyer, gave him this print of Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech which is newly on the wall outside Jack’s office. Rockwell’s series of four oil paintings in 1943 were based on Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address: “[W]e look forward to a world based on four essential human freedoms”.
Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.
Always the perfectionist, Rockwell assembled real citizens as models for the painting of a Vermont town meeting. The central citizen speaker was named Carl Hess who owned a local gas station. Rockwell painted a first draft of the composition which he, Rockwell, wasn’t satisfied with and entirely re-painted. Four Freedoms took him the better part of 6 months, working and re-working the series at least four times.
On this eve of 2014, the Four Freedoms still have a contemporary ring, even if a citizenship democracy takes persistence to get the work just right.