The Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hicks

Between 1820 and 1849 , during the last thirty years of his life, the Quaker sign painter-turned-preacher Edward Hicks created more than one hundred versions of this subject, an allegory of spiritual and earthly harmony based on Isaiah 11:6-9: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den." In the multiple versions of his composition, Hicks both closely followed the scriptural description and also added imagery symbolic of Quaker belief and Pennsylvania history. In the background at left, for example, William Penn enacts his treaty with the commonwealth's native inhabitants in a composition appropriated from Benjamin West's painting of the scene (see 1878.10) While originally produced as visual sermons for Hick's family and friends, the painting's technical simplicity and deep-felt message of unity have charmed generations of viewers of all ages since the painter's rediscovery during the early twentieth century.
Date of Birth
ca. 1833
Oil on canvas
17 7/8 x 23 15/16 in. (45.4025 x 60.80125 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
John S. Phillips bequest, by exchange (acquired from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, originally the 1950 bequest of Lisa Norris Elkins)

More by