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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

American, 1780 - 1849
Penn's Treaty with the Indians
c. 1830–40
Oil on canvas

17 5/8 x 23 5/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Bayou Bend Collection
Gift of Alice C. Simkins in memory of Alice Nicholson Hanszen

Arts of North America

According to legend, in 1682 Quaker reformer William Penn met with Native Americans at Shackamaxon in what is now Philadelphia to exchange gifts for land. Although history shows that Penn did meet with the Lenape Indians, no actual treaty exists. For the Quakers, however, the meeting fulfilled the biblical prophecy of a peaceable kingdom on earth.

The theme inspired more than a hundred paintings by Quaker preacher Edward Hicks, who also worked as a sign and coach painter. Using a seemingly unsophisticated style, Hicks concentrated on images that conveyed his Quaker beliefs.