Edward Hicks (1780–1849)
A Peaceable Kingdom with Quakers Bearing Banners, c. 1829–1830
One of the best-known self-taught artists in early-nineteenth-century America, Edward Hicks was a Quaker minister who painted primarily religious and moral subjects. This work is one of more than sixty allegorical representations by Hicks of the peaceable kingdom, an Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 11:6–9) of peace among natural enemies. A figure bearing grapes—an emblem of salvation—leads a companionable assortment of animals out of a dark wood and into a tranquil landscape. In the distance, Christ and the Twelve Apostles crown a mountain; below them, swirling banners bearing messages of peace encircle a gathering of Quakers. Hicks incorporated the Quakers to express his sympathies with a breakaway faction led by his cousin, the charismatic preacher Elias Hicks, who is pictured in profile, holding a handkerchief as a reference to his heavy perspiration during vigorous preaching. The painting both justified the secession of the so-called Hicksites and expressed the hope of amicable reconciliation among all God’s creatures.