Art and Aesthetics in Action
Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn


A Quaker Arbor

Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was a Quaker who painted a Biblical theme from Isaiah (Chapter XI, Verses 6-9). The theme depicted a “Peaceable Kingdom.” He painted the subject many times. He loved children and animals and was devoted to the Bible. As was true of other Quakers in his day, he disapproved of nonutilitarian art such as easel painting. But because Quaker ministers were not permitted salaries, he needed an income. So his painting might have supported his large family. The “Peaceable Kingdom” is a prophecy of the coming of Christ and the arrival of a peaceful world, in which all animals and human beings live in harmony and prosperity.

A Quaker Arbor
A Quaker Arbor

My painting of a Quaker Arbor is done in the spirit of Hicks. It is a peaceful scene in nature. It reflects the stiffness I see in the Hicks’ painting, which I took to be my own. It reflects the straightness, uprightness, and lack of depth in his painting, which I took as my own. I left out all his animals, but I added radiance to the trees.

Now, I must ask, is a “peaceable kingdom” a picture of harmony? Is peace all symmetry and balance?

Or, should we add some opposing forces that Hicks did not depict, to represent peace?  Could we add some forces of chaos, perhaps some asymmetry to the picture of peace? Could we someway introduce some disorder and “clutter” in our picture of peace?

Could real Peace be composed of high combine of opposing forces?

Could the real Peaceable Kingdom stand up, come forth, sign in?

 Maybe my answer can wait.

On the Road

Vincent (After himself)

A Peasant (After Vincent)

A Sea of Fire

Flying Colors

A Close Up

The Descent

A Quaker Arbor

The Horse on a Hill

Amaryllis Alone

Roses Rapping

Frames of Arborvitae

Good Morning

Lovers on the Farm

Bass Rocks at Gloucester

Satyagraha: A Meditation