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Edward Hicks

Painter
Born April 4, 1780, Langhorne, PA
Died August 23, 1849, Newtown, Pennsylvania

The highest art a man can practice in his community is the art of peaceable living.-Edward Hicks

For Edward Hicks, a devout Quaker, painting was a means to achieve in himself, and in his viewers, the profound spiritual peace he so highly prized. Since his preaching yielded little income, Hicks also painted in order to earn "an honest living." Trained as a coach and sign painter, Hicks achieved immediate success in his field. He regarded his art, which he began in midlife, as an extension of his craft, painting pictures, as well as signs, on commission. Typically, Hicks painted in oil on wood or canvas, specializing in Biblical scenes, especially Peaceable Kingdoms inspired by Isaiah, as well as history paintings and panoramas of Bucks County farm life. His style was naive, rendering animals and human figures in realistic detail, while handling perspective awkwardly. Although Hicks lacked formal training as an artist, he taught himself in the same manner favored by many academies, copying earlier paintings or etchings. Indeed, most of Hicks's paintings were based on engravings. Due to the discovery, during the twentieth century, of many of Hicks's paintings, his stature as an artist has increased tremendously, so that today he is regarded as the greatest American naive painter.

Image: Thomas Hicks, Portrait of Edward Hicks, ca.. 1850-52, H. 36.125 x W. 29.125 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Museum purchase funded by Eleanor K. Denoon, The Bella S. and Benjamin H. Garb Foundation Inc., Mr. and Mrs.Kenneth Gemmill, George S. Hobensack, Jr., Laurence D. Keller, William Mandell, Members of the Newtown Friends Meeting, Olde Hope Antiques, Inc., Residents of Pennswood Village, Eleanor and Malcolm Polis, Ms. Leslie E. Skilton, Kingdon Swayne, and Anonymous Donors


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