Edward Hicks, having apprenticed to a Pennsylvania coachmaker at thirteen, became
a minister in 1811. He was torn between his calling as a Quaker minister and his
love of painting, worrying that his art kept him from "the Lord's work."
Hicks precisely identified this subject with a long inscription along the bottom
of the canvas: "An Indian summer view of the Farm & Stock OF JAMES C. CORNELL of
Northampton Bucks county Pennsylvania. That took the Premium in the Agricultural
society, October the 12, 1848 Painted by E. Hicks in the 69th year of his age."
Though the punctuation and capitalization are inconsistent, the quality of the lettering
proves that Edward Hicks was schooled in sign painting.
Having no background in academic art, Hicks employed the direct approach of a primitive
or folk painter. The horizontal band of livestock across the foreground, although
childlike in its simplicity, clearly presents each prize-winning animal as an individual
portrait. Hicks' delight in creating ornamental pattern is evident in the arrangement
of fences, while the rich red and bright white of the house and barn symmetrically
flank this central landscape. Although the stark silhouettes of figures and buildings
seem naive, Hicks softly blended his paints over the orchard to give the impression
of space existing well beyond what the eye can see.