Dorrance Galleries, First Floor
Edward Hicks (1780–1849), one of the best known American folk painters, was a lifelong resident of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and a devoted Quaker missionary and preacher. His images of The Peaceable Kingdom, inspired by the Book of Isaiah’s prophetic vision of a peaceful world in which “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,“ are among the most beloved in American art. For Hicks, painting portraits or other “vain“ and “self-indulgent“ forms–though relatively lucrative–was incompatible with his religious beliefs. To satisfy his creative impulses and his Quaker convictions, Hicks devoted most of his energies to painting inspirational and instructive subjects. His life and art will be explored in The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks, a comprehensive exhibition featuring more than 80 works of art. The exhibition will include paintings, decorated objects, as well as important manuscript materials that illuminate Hick’s deep spirituality, artistic talent, and intense interest in the doctrinal controversies that divided his fellow Quakers in the early years of the 19th century.
A man of strong faith, Hicks lived in two worlds (or “kingdoms“): the religious and the secular. The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks will examine the distinctions between his religiously inspired paintings and the secular works that he produced to earn a living. Featured will be some 25 representations of The Peaceable Kingdom, a religious and historic subject treated by Hicks in more than 100 paintings dating from the early 1820s to 1849, and which became the artist’s most compelling personal and artistic testament. In addition to important examples of The Peaceable Kingdom, the exhibition will feature rural landscapes and pastoral scenes, an advertising signboard painted by Hicks in 1800 to 1805; and A Portrait of Edward Hicks by his nephew Thomas Hicks (1823–90) in 1838–41. The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks will also include revealing artifacts: a stone used by Hicks for the grinding of pigments, his spectacles, a letter in the artist’s hand, and two copies of his published memoirs, among other evocative and instructive items.
This exhibition was organized by The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
This exhibition is made possible by J.P. Morgan.
Support was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the catalogue received funding through a generous grant from Juli and David Grainger of Winnetka, Illinois, and the Grainger Foundation. In Philadelphia, the exhibition is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and The William Penn Foundation.
Darrell L. Sewell, Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Curator of American Art