See Rockwell's Four Freedoms at the Mémorial de Caen!

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For the first time ever, Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms have left America - and are being shown at an exclusive exhibition at the Mémorial de Caen until late October. 

Norman Rockwell's extraordinary paintings, the Four Freedoms, already have plenty of miles under their belt. They crossed the length and breadth of the United States during WW2 at the famous war bond shows where they helped to raise $130 million for the American war effort. And now they have crossed the Atlantic to France in the footsteps of the soldiers they raised money to support.

Norman Rockwell timeline at Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms © Mémorial de Caen

On loan from the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the paintings' new home from 10 June until 27 October is the Mémorial de Caen. This famed war museum with its memorial garden is dedicated to the history of war during the 20th century, especially the effects of WW2, with one of the D-Day landing beaches only a short way from Caen - Sword Beach at our port town of Ouistreham.

To host the 5-month exhibition for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Mémorial's 15,000 sq ft temporary exhibition space has undergone renovation in order to meet the international standards for an exhibition of such significance.

The Four Freedoms section of the exhibition at Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms © Mémorial de Caen

The Four Freedoms series of paintings are based on Roosevelt's famous State of the Union address to Congress on 6 January 1941, in which he looked forward 'to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms'. Rockwell took it upon himself to paint a representation for each of the freedoms - Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

And whilst they were no easy subjects, his perseverance paid off when they became a hit all around the country. Today, they are some of America's most famous images of the 20th century.

A film on show at Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms © Mémorial de Caen

Rockwell, from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, used local people and his friends and family as models for his paintings. Accompanying the artworks are other artefacts including the leather jacket worn by the model of the worker for Freedom of Speech.

Another costume at the exhibition is the white dress worn by the little girl who was a model for The Problem We All Live With. Depicting African-American Ruby Bridges walking to school on her first day at an all-white school after desegregation in New Orleans, The Problem We All Live With is also on display. In fact, the exhibition covers the entire period of Rockwell's work from the 1940s to 1960s.

The Problem We All Live With at Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms © Mémorial de Caen

Whilst his earlier work focused on the war effort, he later dedicated his time to denouncing racial segregation and reflecting on American society. The first section of the exhibition focuses on Rockwell's paintings during WW2, including the ever-popular Willie Gillis series, the Four Freedoms and a series of works showing the soldiers returning home to family life.

The second section delves into his later subjects and, alongside The Problem We All Live With, are his renowned United Nations, Golden Rule - a huge mosaic of which is in the lobby of the UN building in New York, and the haunting Murder in Mississippi. This last work is unlike much of Rockwell's other art, depicting the horror and brutality of a lynching in Mississippi in 1963.

This truly is an unmissable opportunity for any art lover and those interested in the history of the 20th century. The paintings will be returning to America following the exhibition so don't miss your chance to see these exceptional and historic paintings whilst they are in France!

How to get there

Travelling to Caen is easy taking our direct route from Portsmouth to Caen. With up to 3 sailings a day, there's plenty of choice of sailing times and you can even sail overnight and wake up in France. Want to visit more D-Day attractions? Try our D-Day car tour or take a look through our D-Day attractions guides.

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