Thursday 22 November 2012


On 6 March 1943, The Saturday Evening Post published a painting by the great American pop artist, Norman Rockwell.

The first of four 'Freedom' pictures by Rockwell, it was entitled 'Freedom from Want' and became the archetypal image representing Thanksgiving...
This is not the first time this iconic image has appeared on this blog and I am reproducing it again today to bring Thanksgiving Greetings to all my friends on the other side of the Atlantic.   

It was later used as a US propaganda poster with the slogan: OURS... to fight for FREEDOM FROM WANT.

It is said that Rockwell fussed over this painting for a long time, concerned that it would convey overabundance rather than the theme of freedom from want.

Rockwell was well known for using friends and family as models for his paintings and the Rockwell family cook, Mrs. Thaddeus Wheaton, was the model for the grandmother serving the turkey.  "I painted the turkey in Freedom From Want on Thanksgiving Day," wrote Rockwell, "Mrs Wheaton, our cook, cooked it, I painted it and we ate it."
I love Rockwell's wonderful composition – back-lit from the window with the light bouncing off the white tablecloth and best china – and, in particular, the way in which the senior couple are focused on the placing of the turkey and maintaining the order and ritual of the table.

I also enjoy the way in which the family circle is so intimate and tightly knit that the rest of the diners are only partially glimpsed. it is genius on Rockwell's part that they are are all learning forward in animated conversation with one another – with the one exception of the guy in the bottom right hand corner who is looking directly at the artist and, therefore, the viewer, and so makes us a guest at the table.

It also gives me an excuse to also blog again a delightful pastiche of Rockwell's original painting by a gifted Disney artist and illustrator, Charles Boyer, whom I had the pleasure of meeting some years ago...

Boyer's Disney-version of Rockwell is, of course, kitsch - but it is, surely, down-home-honest-to-goodness kitsch! And - on a day like today - I don't really need any excuse for juxtaposing the work of two of America's greatest popular artists.

Disney wasn't the first or last to parody the Rockwell painting and among those who have dragged out the turkey are the Muppets, the Simpsons, the superheroes and the cast of characters in Modern Family. Here are a few Thanksgiving meals to enjoy...


For anyone who'd like to know a little more about the festival of Thanksgiving observed by Britain's former colonists, you can read more about its origins on former post.


Bottom photography by Louis Stein


WendyLady@GoodBooks said...

Love all these - Happy Thanksgiving from California! :)

SharonM said...

Thanks for the great range of turkey-feasting cartoons/photos.

Roger O B... said...

Coincidentally (or not) Thursday's London Evening Standard printed the first and last images as well!

Brian Sibley said...

'Coincidentally'?? I think NOT! ;)