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May 9, 2003

Colonial Williamsburg Offers a Special Exhibition of Decorative Arts by Edward Hicks

Colonial Williamsburg will display some of the best decorative works of beloved American folk artist Edward Hicks (1780-1849), whose ornamental painting and lettering is the focus of “Decorative Details: A Closer Look at Edward Hicks.” The exhibition, on view at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum May 10, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2004, will feature 11 paintings -- including a rare portrait of the artist -- and three objects.

The selected works were chosen specifically to demonstrate Hicks’ extraordinary skill as an ornamental painter with an expert eye for detail and precision. Special highlights will include paintings of the “Falls of Niagara,” “The Declaration of Independence,” “The Residence of David Twining” and one of the Peaceable Kingdoms as well as the Henry Vanhorn signboard, one of Hicks’ earliest ornamental works.

Hicks, who is best known for his “Peaceable Kingdom” series of paintings depicting animals living together in peace based on the moral and religious values expressed in the Isaiah prophecy, began his career as a sign painter and apprenticed with coach makers near Newtown, Pa., from 1793-1800 when he was between the ages of 13 and 20. By 1811, he set up shop in Newtown. Though noted in public records as a Quaker minister, he continued his work as a sign painter throughout his life. In 1836, he took on his younger cousin, Thomas Hicks, as an apprentice. Thomas later became an artist in his own right and, in fact, painted an evocative likeness of his cousin Edward that is on display in “Decorative Details.”

Carolyn J. Weekley, Juli Grainger director of museums for Colonial Williamsburg and curator of the exhibition, also is author of “The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks,” considered to be the most authoritative and comprehensive examination of this remarkable man. “In his dual roles in life as a Quaker minister and as a painter, Hicks taught moral and religious values based on the Isaiah prophecy of peaceful coexistence,” said Weekley. “He attempted to use his art, even the most decorative and ornamental objects, in a way that embraced universal concerns.”

The award winning Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is one of the world-class museums belonging to Colonial Williamsburg, the nations’ largest living history museum. The folk art museum is the first U.S. institution devoted exclusively to collecting, exhibiting and researching American folk art and houses the world’s largest collection of works by Edward Hicks. Located on South England Street across from the Williamsburg Lodge, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is included in any Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or by separate one-day or annual museums ticket. For program information, call (757) 220-7698.

Media Contact:
Sophie Hart
(757) 220-7272