Monday, December 31, 2012

The Peaceable Kingdom

With what thought is it best to close this eventful year of 2012 amid the snow and ice? I suppose one could do far worse than to contemplate this detail plucked from Edward Hicks’s wonderfully appealing painting, The Peaceable Kingdom (1829–30) in the collection of our sister institution the Yale University Art Gallery, now gloriously refurbished and re-opened on the other side of Chapel Street. In it the artist, a Quaker minister in Pennsylvania, gave expression to the Prophet Isaiah’s vision of God’s kingdom on earth (KJV 11:6): “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” There is something deliciously raffish about this particular leopard with his laconic eyes, lazy chin, and arched eyebrows, while the calf (evidently a quick developer), seems understandably perplexed, even discomfited, though compliant enough. Still, we know what is meant. The Peaceable Kingdom is hardly a figure of the often miserable, mostly shocking world in which we live now; indeed its promise and the object of its prayer seem as far as ever from our grasp. Still, it is a noble vision and one that is important to keep in mind as we stumble over the next hurdle and into the coming year, for what is the alternative? It might even do us a little good. Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous, healthy and peaceful New Year 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment