Penn’s Treaty by Edward Hicks at State Museum of Pennsylvania

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

Best known for his Peaceable Kingdom works of art, nineteenth-century American folk painter Edward Hicks (1780–1849) was a distinguished Society of Friends minister who ultimately became a Quaker icon for his narrative paintings. Born at Attleboro (now Langhorne) in Bucks County, he apprenticed at the age of thirteen with coach makers William and Henry Tomlinson for seven years, during which he learned the craft of coach painting. In 1800, he left the Tomlinsons to work independently as a house and coach painter and moved to Milford the following year to work for Joshua C. Canby, also a builder of coaches. In 1803, Hicks joined the Society of Friends and within ten years was serving as a minister. Inspired by Benjamin West’s William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians When He Founded the Province of Pennsylvania in North America (1771), Hicks created Penn’s Treaty (circa 1830), an oil painting in a block frame of mahogany veneer, which is the seminal work of the Penn Treaty Collection, donated to The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, by the late Meyer P. and Vivian O. Potamkin, of Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is observing “William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity” as its annual theme for 2011.