|Not yet available
with Quakers Bearing Banners
Century; Friends; Hicksites; schisms; People; Elias Hicks; Edward Hicks
next to the "progress of religious history" in defense of the Hicksite
commitment to the Bible, in hope of a reconciliation among Quakers and as an illustration
of the artist's own desire for inner peace.
In reference to the contemporary Quaker dispute, the painting is "commemorative of
the progress of religious history," a progress that culminates with the appearance of
the separatists or Hicksites.
Thirteen rays of light representing Christ and the twelve apostles radiate from the top of
the mountain. From the central ray extends a banner that reads, "Behold I bring glad
tidings of great Joy. Peace on earth and good will to men." (Luke 2:10-14)
The crowd among whom the banner winds represents figures important to religious liberty
and probably includes Calvin, Luther, Wycliff and Huss. Among those in the front who can
definitely be identified are George Fox, Robert Barclay and William Penn. As Eleanor
Mather notes, "The trials of the separation . . . made the painter particularly
appreciative of Penn the Founding Father, whose liberal theology and provisions for civil
and religious freedoms in his colony were so congenial to Hicksite Quakerism."
Other figures in the crowd who can be identified as "anti-Orthodox" Quakers
include George Washington (probably) and of course the artist's cousin, Elias Hicks.
Again, Mather writes, "The Orthodox claimed that the schism was a theological
dispute, in which they had defended Quakerism against heresy. The Hicksites maintained
that it was not a doctrinal matter, but a struggle for religious liberty. Both sides saw
themselves as the spiritual and legal heirs of the primitive founders."
|Courtesy of Friends
Historical Library of Swarthmore College.
Department of Art, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA, 19081-1397