Edward Hicks was an American folk painter who became a distinguished religious minister also. His paintings made him a Quaker icon.
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Edward Hicks was born on 4 April 1780 of Anglican parents. Edward lost his mother when he was eighteen months old and was raised by her mother’s friend,
Matron Elizabeth Twining at their farm, Twining Farm. This is where he was taught of Quaker beliefs and this had a great effect on his life later.
At the age of thirteen, Hicks worked as an apprentice to William and Henry Tomlinson, the coachmakers. He stayed for seven years with them and learned coach painting there. He moved to live independently from there in 1800.
However, dissatisfied with his life, Hicks started attending Quaker meetings regularly and the Society of Friends accepted his membership in 1803. The same year he married Sarah Worstall, who was a Quaker woman.
Edward Hicks Facts
In 1812, Hicks’s congregation recorded him as a minister and he started traveling from one place to another in Philadelphia as a Quaker preacher. To support his living and traveling expenses he painted household objects, farm equipment, and tavern signs.
In 1815, Hicks decided to support his family by farming. However, he continued with a plain, utilitarian type of painting. Being inexperienced in farming and because of less remuneration for utilitarian paintings, Hicks suffered financial crunch always.
Edward Hicks Paintings
In 1816, when his wife was expecting his fifth child, he resumed decorative painting at the urge of his close friend.
This not only saved him from financial disaster but also helped him preserve his livelihood as a Quaker artist. His first of many paintings was ready in 1820 under the name of “The Peaceable Kingdom”.
He only sold decorative paintings while the easel paintings were only for family and friends.
Gradually Hicks transitioned into a life of painting. His works were influenced by the Inner Light, which is a specific Quaker belief.
Hicks’s first painting exhibition took place at Williamsburg, Virginia in 1860. It received mixed reviews. The subject matter used to be religious while current events were used to portray them.
He painted predators and prey next to each other to show a theme of peace. His first presentation of work was in 1826.
Style of Painting
Hicks’s paintings display similarities. Calmness and peace characterize Hicks’ compositions instead of abrupt action, normally seen. The shapes and forms in his work appear to be organic, soft and flowing.
Only when you watch the gestures of animals and humans in the paintings closely, you will be able to understand and derive the meaning.
Hicks used to paint outdoor scenes and the source of light used to be the sun and the sky. The colors scheme is not complicated.
In fact, almost all of his paintings have a warmer tone. He died on 23 August 1849 and was buried in Newtown Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania at Newtown Friends Meetinghouse Cemetery.