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Edward Hicks's Last Peaceable Kingdom at Christie's
Edward Hicks (1790 – 1849), Peaceable Kingdom, executed in 1849, oil on canvas, 24 3/32 x 30 5/8 inches, $3,000,000 - 4,000,000. © Christie’s Images Ltd. 2006.

NEW YORK.- Christie’s is proud to announce that the last Peaceable Kingdom painted by Edward Hicks will lead the Americana sales this January. The Peaceable Kingdom stands as an iconic and celebrated image of American art. As the last in this important series of paintings, this masterpiece has extraordinary significance to collectors, institutions and art historians the world over and is estimated at $3-4 million. That the present work is being offered by a descendant of the artist further underscores its cultural and historic importance. Christie’s currently holds the world auction record for Edward Hicks, achieved in 1999 for a Peaceable Kingdom from the artist’s Middle Kingdom era which realized $4,732,500.

“We are honored to offer Hicks’s Last Peaceable Kingdom. It is a powerful and moving picture that conveys the artist's peace with a subject that dominated his life. That this canvas was made for the artist's daughter and was handed down through generations of the Hicks’s family underscores this picture's significance. Its beauty, provenance and historical importance combine to provide a rare opportunity to acquire a masterpiece,” said Margot Rosenberg, Head of Sales for Christie’s American Furniture & Decorative Arts department.

The Peaceable Kingdom series by Edward Hicks (1780-1849) is one of the most recognized and enduring images in the canon of American Folk Art. Through the more than sixty known painted versions of the Peaceable Kingdom that survive, Hicks presents parables of the animal kingdom to illustrate Isaiah’s prophecy of a time when wild animals would lie down with their prey and a child would lead them in peace. Representing the tenants of his Hicksite Quaker theology, the image symbolizes Hicks’s ideal world, one in which men of different religious or secular ideologies are able to coexist in harmony. Today viewed in several distinct periods, the series shows that Hicks gradually populated his vision with more animals, changed the iconography, and depicted various significant events within his Quaker community. From early versions featuring a child as the central character, to the Middle Era depicting the schism within the Quaker community through distraught animals, Peaceable Kingdom presents a vision of Hicks’s world on each canvas.

Known as his “Late Kingdoms,” the versions painted by Hicks during the last years of his life reflect his reconciliation of the conflicting spiritual issues that troubled and saddened him following the religious schism. Unlike earlier versions depicting animals isolated from one another and split tree trunks symbolizing the division of the Quakers, these later versions have a marked sense of serenity and acquiescence: the lion is now depicted crouching in a submissive pose and a group of animals follow a child willingly away from the scene.

The Last Peaceable Kingdom - Executed in 1849, the present Peaceable Kingdom is documented as the last painted by Edward Hicks and represents the final word on a theme that governed both his life and art. Family tradition holds that it was on his easel when he died. It has been documented that this version was created for his daughter Elizabeth Hicks, who was also a Quaker minister. Long treasured and carefully preserved by the family, the painting has remained with Hicks’s descendants since the artist’s death over 150 years ago. The composition of the present work keeps with much of the “Late Kingdom” imagery, however many unique elements set it apart from other versions. The focal point is now the elongated and recumbent leopard, the epitome of a being, like Hicks, finally at peace with the world. This tranquility is seen in each of the painting’s thirteen animals, who peacefully mingle in the soft glow of the setting sun. Though many of the series’ familiar scenes remain- for instance, the distant Penn’s Treaty grouping- this version is distinctive in that a general exodus appears to be taking place. Also unique to the Kingdom imagery is the lone bull in the lower right corner that appears to be exiting the scene. Deftly rendered in almost uncharacteristic realism for a Kingdom animal, the bull appears to be regarding the serene image with an appearance of yearning and resignation.

Auction: Important American Furniture, Folk Art, January 19, 2007 Silver, Prints & Decoys. Viewing: Christie’s, Rockefeller Center Galleries January 13-18, 2007.

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