Quaker Paintings of Horace Pippin

Nine Quaker paintings were created by Horace Pippin. Quaker Mother and Child depicts a plain Friend and her child in a colonial-era home. Birmingham Meeting House, three versions of which exist, show Birmingham Meetinghouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Holy Mountain, four versions of which were made, was a scene from the Peaceable Kingdom, probably inspired by Edward Hicks’s pictures. Major General Smedley D. Butler was a portrait of the Quaker Marine Corps Commandant.

Horace Pippin (1888-1946) was an American painter. Self-taught, he worked as a laborer. A member of the African Union Methodist Protestant Church, he lived much of his life in West Chester. Pippin worked mainly in oil, using bright colors, flat shapes and straight lines. His subjects ranged widely, including slavery, segregation, childhood, war, everyday life, landscapes, portraits, the Bible and American history. By the late 1930’s he had become a favorite of artists and critics. Among his most famous paintings were Self-Portrait, John Brown Going to His Hanging and Marian Anderson. His works hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Chicago Art Institute, the Corcoran Gallery of Artand the Tate Gallery. A quote: “Pictures just come to my mind and I tell my heart to go ahead.”

Horace Pippin’s Quaker paintings are exquisite. Though dubbed as “outsider art”, a patronizing term, I feel they (and Pippin’s paintings generally) are among the best of American painting.

Gary Sandman

(Below are Quaker Mother and Child, Birmingham Meeting House, Holy Mountain and Major General Smedley D. Butler).

January 2020

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