Van Gogh •
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Edward Hicks was born in Attleboro, Pennsylvania. The son of a farmer, he left the land to become an apprentice to a coachmaker. He showed ability in
painting coaches and signs but, becoming obsessed with a feeling of sin for having attended local farm festivals, he became a Quaker, gave up his brushes, and bought a farm. His farm did not prosper and he turned to itinerant preaching in the northern part of the United States and southern Canada. He earned great renown as a preacher but, in 1819, decided that a good Christian must earn his living with his hands. Since his only manual skill was painting, he allowed himself to return to it. It is his sincere beliefs in religion and in peaceful cooperation that become transposed onto the canvas.
Hicks was entirely self-taught since he believed that organized education was a tool of the devil. Ironically, he himself has taught succeeding generations,
for his sincerity shines through his paintings, giving them an excitement heightened by lively detail that is both naive and, to the more sophisticated twentieth-century viewer, humorous and interesting. His animals have human expressions; his children and human figures, although stiff and doll-like, are distinctively drawn and accurately costumed; and often quite luminous in color; and his feeling for history makes his moral lessons both valid and purposeful.