Original Document
Original Document
Edward Hicks, On painting within "the bounds of innocence and usefulness," circa 1845.

If the Christian world was in the real spirit of Christ, I do not believe there would be such a thing as a fine painter in Christendom. It appears clearly to me to be one of those trifling, insignificant arts, which has never been of any substantial advantage to mankind. But as the inseparable companion of voluptuousness and pride, it has presaged the downfall of empires and kingdoms; and in my view stands now enrolled among the premonitory symptoms of the rapid decline of the American Republic. But there is something of importance in the example of the primitive Christians and primitive Quakers, to mind their callings or business, and work with their own hands at such business as they are capable of, avoiding idleness and fanaticism. Had I my time to go over again I think I would take the advice given me by my old friend Abraham Chapman, a shrewd, sensible lawyer that lived with me about the time I was quitting painting; "Edward, thee has now the source of independence within thyself, in thy peculiar talent for painting.  Keep to it, within the bounds of innocence and usefulness, and thee can always be comfortable.'

Credit: Edward Hicks, Memoirs of the Life and Religious labors of Edward Hicks, Late of Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Merrihew & Thompson, 1851, p. 71.
Back to Top