This work was illustrated on the 1946 Hercules Powder Company calendar, and was published on the cover of the Hercules Mixer in January 1946.
The last painting of nearly a dozen by Newell Convers Wyeth to appear on the cover of the Hercules Powder Company calendar, and also a painting that appeared on the cover of the 1946 Hercules Mixer, Spirit of '46 depicts three young factory workers with lunchpails, presumably heading home at the end of another day. Echoing American sentiment at the end of World War II, Spirit of '46 represents hard work, industry, comraderie, and freedom. The three prominent figures in the present work are a soldier, a sailor, and an airman, who have come home from war, victorious and heroic, and are able to find jobs in the country that their victory helped protect. With these figures, Wyeth has symbolized conversion of wartime industry into the continuing peacetime productivity. Deftly composed, undeniably patriotic, and brimming with optimism, Spirit of '46 carries the best characteristics of Wyeth's art.
This work is included in the N.C. Wyeth catalogue raisonné database that is being compiled by the Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.