The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco host the first major exhibition devoted to the life and works of Edward Hicks, a 19th-century Quaker minister and painter, whose interpretations of The Peaceable Kingdom are among the most beloved paintings in American art. Since their re-discovery in the 1930s, Hicks's deceptively simple, seemingly child-like depictions of the animal world have delighted viewers of all ages. They also won him the admiration of modern artists early in this century who saw in his almost surreal compositions executed in his flat, signboard-like style a provocative parallel to their own vision.
This exhibition focuses new attention on the Quaker beliefs and church politics that inspired both Hicks's subject matter and his self-consciously naive style. Hicks was both an artist and a prominent member of a society that shunned art. The paradox of his life brought out his creative genius, a genius that has been little understood even as we have grown to appreciate Hicks's paintings as some of the most joyous and memorable in American art. The exhibition includes more than 50 paintings, ranging from his well-known Peaceable Kingdom variants to other historical subjects, showing the entire range of Hicks's artistic interests.