The Artists

Edward Hicks
A pacifist paints lions and leopards

Edward Hicks, The Artists
Portrait of Edward Hicks

Edward Hicks was a painter, then a preacher, then a painter again.

Edward’s mother raised him as a Quaker, with the belief that all people and animals contained an inner light, a divine power that could redeem the soul and bring peace to earth. Hicks chased that peace his whole life, first as a rebellious youth, then as a traveling preacher, and finally through sixty-two versions of the “Peaceable Kingdom,” Hick’s vision of Isaiah 11:6: The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

A good Quaker

In the 1800s you learned a trade through apprenticeship, and at age 13 Hicks was apprenticed to a coach maker, where he excelled at painting the elaborate ornamental designs popular among the New England upper class. By 20, Hicks was independent, successful, and in his own words “exceedingly fond of singing, dancing, vain amusements, and the company of young people, and too often profanely swearing.”

But Hicks tired of frivolity, and soon traded ‘vain amusements’ for a Quaker wife and five children. Hicks wanted to be a good Quaker. He gave up ornamental painting, adopting instead the utilitarian styles supported by his ascetic doctrines. In 1813, Hicks followed in the footsteps of his older cousin Elias Hicks, becoming an itinerant preacher until he could no longer afford to both support his family and travel.

The 1820s were hard times for the Quakers. Hick’s cousin Elias had introduced a new liberal theology to the Religious Society of Friends, preaching that Jesus was just a man, that sexual passion wasn’t the devil’s fault, and that all slaves should be freed. Radical stuff for the time, and it caused a devastating split in the Quaker community.

A painter and pacifist

In 1820 Edward Hicks found his voice. Amidst the vicious politicking of the approaching Quaker schism, Hicks turned back to painting, creating the first of many images of the “Peaceable Kingdom.” The the of wild animals quietly communing with children became Hick’s message, his sermon. As his skills grew he took commissions for other paintings, but always returned to the Kingdom. His zoo of animals stood for more than peace, they became symbols of laying down the idols of human pride. The lion symbolized power and wealth, the leopard represented lustful worldliness. All in submission to the innocence of a child.


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Reed Enger, "Edward Hicks, A pacifist paints lions and leopards," in Obelisk Art History, Published April 04, 2016; last modified November 08, 2022,

Edward Hicks was a U.S. Outsider Artist born on April 4, 1780. Hicks died on August 23, 1849.

The Falls of Niagara, Edward Hicks

The Falls of Niagara 1825

Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Peaceable Kingdom 1826 – 1828

Peaceable Kingdom of the Branch, Edward Hicks

Peaceable Kingdom of the Branch 1826 – 1830

Peaceable Kingdom with Quakers Bearing Banners, Edward Hicks

Peaceable Kingdom with Quakers Bearing Banners 1829 – 1830

Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Peaceable Kingdom 1830 – 1832

Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Peaceable Kingdom 1834

Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Peaceable Kingdom 1833 – 1834

The Landing of Columbus, Edward Hicks

The Landing of Columbus 1837

Penn's Treaty with the Indians, Edward Hicks

Penn's Treaty with the Indians 1830 – 1840

Penn's Treaty with the Indians, Edward Hicks

Penn's Treaty with the Indians 1840 – 1844

Noah's Ark, Edward Hicks

Noah's Ark 1846

The Cornell Farm, Edward Hicks

The Cornell Farm 1848

The Grave of William Penn, Edward Hicks

The Grave of William Penn 1847 – 1848

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