The outstanding feature of The Cornell Farm is the marked individuality with which the artist has described each cow, pig and sheep, reflecting his patron’s pride of ownership. In this late work, Hicks has also grown more sophisticated in his use of perspective. In the middle distance, the tree line and fences draw closer together to create the illusion of depth, while the blurred horizon suggests the existence of space beyond the range of vision. The inscription along the bottom of the canvas reads, “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.”
Hicks learned to paint as a coachmaker but found his vocation as a Quaker minister. For much of his life he experienced dissonance between his artistic talents and the austerity demanded by his faith. He is best known for his 62 variations of The Peaceable Kingdom, in which children, livestock and predators gather together in peace and harmony.