Saturday Evening Post cover May 29, 1943.
Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter received mass distribution on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on Memorial Day, May 29, 1943. Rockwell’s illustration features a brawny woman taking her lunch break with a rivet gun on her lap, beneath her a copy of Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf and a lunch pail labled “Rosie”. Rockwell based the pose to match Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting of the prophet Isaiah.
Rockwell’s model was a Vermont resident, then 19-year-old Mary Doyle Keefe who was a telephone operator near where Rockwell lived, not a riveter. Rockwell painted his “Rosie” as a larger woman than his model, and he later phoned to apologize. The Post’s cover image proved hugely popular, and the magazine loaned it to the U.S. Treasury Department for the duration of the war, for use in war bond drives.
The New-York Historical Society exhibition, Rockwell, Roosevelt, & the Four Freedoms is the inspiration for the NYHistory Store's merchandise. The traveling exhibition, which was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, explores how Rockwell’s 1943 paintings—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want—gave visual voice to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to the defense of freedom worldwide and took their place among the most enduring images in the history of American art. On view through September 2, 2018.