(1780 - 1849)
Edward Hicks was active/lived in Pennsylvania. Edward Hicks is known for peaceful animals, history and mythology painting.
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Biography from the Archives of askART
The 19th-century Quaker artist Edwards Hicks is arguably the most
well-known and beloved of America's folk painters. Born in
Langhorne, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the orphan Hicks was apprenticed
to local coach makers William and Henry Tomlinson from 1793 to 1800, to
learn the ornamental painting trade. By 1803 he had married Sarah
Worstall of Newtown, Pennsylvania, and was received as a member of the
Middletown Monthly Meeting. He became increasingly involved in
his meeting's affairs during these and the years immediately following,
and by 1811 was recorded as a Quaker minister at Middletown because of
his religious work and popularity as a gifted preacher. It was
also during this year that he set up his shop in Newtown and commenced
the ornamental painting business he would pursue for the remainder of
Biography from the Archives of askART
Hicks was not trained as an easel artist, and had
limited knowledge of studio techniques. As an ornamental painter,
he was trained in various lettering styles, and knew how to paint
heraldic devices and decorate signboards. The latter required
knowledge of different fonts, gilding, mixing paints, color choices,
drawing and composition, all skills he eventually brought to easel
painting. It is clear from his writings and surviving paintings
that easel art - the making of pictures - was separate from his shop
production; it was also an activity that the artist quietly enjoyed,
more as a means to augment and give expression to his religious beliefs
and personal feelings, rather than his artistic aspirations. He
profited very little from these works, many of which were created as
gifts for friends and loved ones.
The 62 versions of Peaceable Kingdom
currently known are the most famous of Hicks' easel works. These
appealing pictures, showing groups of gentle domestic animals existing
peacefully with fierce carnivorous beasts such as bears, lions, wolves
and leopards, have been widely studied and written about.
Associated with them, because of their relationship to the artist's
religious life and beliefs, are a handful of other subjects, including
depictions of William Penn's Treaty with the Indians, which he painted
in the 1830s and 1840s. This newly-discovered example (Penn's Treaty With the Indians) brings the known number of these depictions to 14.
It is the largest known Treaty picture by Hicks, as well as one of the
most impressive, in terms of its drawing, coloration and overall
execution. I t is also closer in composition to its source of
inspiration - Benjamin West's 1771-1774 oil painting of Penn's Treaty With the Indians,
now in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts - than any other version
painted by Hicks. West had displayed his painting in Independence
Hall in Philadelphia in 1771, eight years prior to Hicks's birth, so
the Bucks County artist probably knew the West view from the widely
circulated engraving after it by John Hall. The image became
well-known to the Society of Friends as a whole, since it celebrated an
event that reflected so well a core Quaker belief in peaceful
In this Treaty, the large central gathering of
dignitaries, including William Penn and other Quakers, the buildings
behind them, and many smaller details such as foliage on the trees and
the rendering of clothing, are reminiscent of West's original
composition, although Hicks eliminated West's smaller gatherings of
colonists and Indians in the extreme lower foreground.
size of this Treaty may seem curious to some, but it is consistent with
Hicks' approach to other subjects. There are, for instance,
Kingdom paintings ranging in size from approximately 18 by 23 inches to
30 by 35 inches, and farm scenes that are rather small at 22 by 26
inches, and very large at 40 by nearly 50 inches. Some of the
larger works were commissioned by family and close friends, or for use
in specific locations. This may have been the case with this particular
Treaty, although its early history and ownership remain unknown.
aspects of Hicks' paintings not widely understood or appreciated are
also evident here. The attempt to individualize the faces of the
participants, by rendering them in a more realistic, painterly manner,
is obvious when they are compared with similar such depictions in other
Treaty paintings. The artist was fully capable of such work but
tended to avoid it, probably fearing that the Friends would view such
accomplishments as superfluous, akin to fine art painting, which would
have been an unacceptable calling for a Quaker.
Hicks included a
small vignette of Penn signing a treaty with the Indians in nearly all
of his Peaceable Kingdom paintings, as an interesting parallel to the
gathered animals derived from the Biblical prophesy in the Book of Isaiah:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie
down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling
together; and a little child shall lead them; and the cow and the bear
shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion
shall eat straw like the ox." He also produced at least two
signboards featuring the same subject, only one of which survives
today, in the collection of the Newtown Historic Association, Newtown,
Carolyn J. Weekley
The Juli Grainger Director of Museums
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
November 14, 2002
Courtesy, Sotheby's New York
A devoted Quaker missionary and one of America's best-known painters in naive style, Edward Hicks was self-taught.
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was born in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and orphaned, was raised by the
Twining family. He apprenticed to a carriage maker and decorated
coaches, tavern signs, tables, chairs and furniture. He joined the
Society of Friends, which helped his recovery from alcoholism, and he
became a preacher, for which he was most famous during his lifetime.
he is remembered as a painter, and The Peaceable Kingdom is his most
famous subject. He painted more than one-hundred versions of that
theme, and his work is based on an engraved illustration by Richard
Westall, English academician.
His studio was in Newtown,
Pennsylvania in Bucks County, and two of his students were landscape
painter Martin Johnson Heade and portraitist Thomas Hicks.
October 1999 to January 2000, the Philadelphia Museum of Art held a
retrospective of his work, examining his secular canvases compared to
his religiously inspired paintings.
Michael Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
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