Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hicks, Edward

Peaceable Kingdom
oil on canvas
76.2 × 90.2 cm (30 × 35.5 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA

Edward Hicks (1780 - 1849) was born in Pennsylvania, USA, into a family that had suffered severe financial losses during the Revolution. After Edward's mother died when he was eighteen months old, he was raised by a Quaker family, a close friend of his mother's. He was taught the Quaker beliefs, which had a great effect on the rest of his life.

Hicks apparently had no scholarly interests and at the age of thirteen was apprenticed to coach makers. This apprenticeship furnished him with the technical skills he would apply to the easel paintings he executed fairly late in his life. Hicks at this time was painting signs, furniture, coaches, lettering, and floor cloths, but he became increasingly interested in the Quaker ministry. His sermons reportedly attracted crowds, and he was described as one of the most popular and leading ministers of his time. From this point on his religious interest would dominate his life. Nonetheless, he continued painting, which he described as "one of those trifling insignificant arts" and principally a way to "get an honest living." He became a Quaker icon because of his paintings. He was an American folk painter and distinguished minister of the Society of Friends.