The Peaceable Kingdom
Origin: America, New York, New York
Primary Support: 24 x 35 3/4in. (61 x 90.8cm) and Framed: 25 3/16 x 37 x 1 1/2in.
Oil on pressed fiberboard (Masonite)
Gift of Lawrence E. and Sarah E. Barker
Acc. No. 2012.101.1
A crowded, multi-figural scene in a park-like setting. Various animals lie in the foreground center (sheep, lion, leopard), which are flanked by a black horse at lower left and a bull at lower right. Beyond the animals in the center, a seated pianist performs. Various other figures are clustered around and beyond him, including, at right, the standing figure of an African-American trumpet player in a bright blue suit. Smaller figures are scattered about. The grounds are dotted with trees and shrubs, a baseball game is in progress in the distance, and an open, blocky building appears at far left. Yellow buildings line the distant horizon line, which is very near the top of the picture plane.
The 3/4-inch black painted wooden frame with a yellow-painted liner holds plexiglas over the face of the artwork and must have been added soon after the painting was completed, possibly for the Armstrong traveling exhibition (see "Exhibition History").
Label:Self-taught artist Malcah Zeldis (born Mildred Brightman in the Bronx, New York) was encouraged to pursue painting as a young woman, but did not begin her artistic work in earnest until her 50s. Her version of the “Peaceable Kingdom,” an American folk art composition most notably associated with Edward Hicks, places a human twist on the harmonious landscape. Zeldis populates her painting with pivotal historical and contemporary personages. She states that “summoning” these individuals brought her great pleasure and creativity, "as though [these figures] imparted their strength to me." In this composition, Zeldis summoned diverse notables including Eleanor Roosevelt, Luciano Pavarotti, Nelson Mandela, her parents, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Louis Armstrong, and Charlie Chaplin.
Provenance:Purchased about 1995 directly from the artist by CWF's donors, Lawrence E. and Sarah E. Barker of Wilmington, Ohio.
Inscription(s):In reddish-brown paint along the lower edge is "M.Zeldis 94."
In graphite on the back of the fomecor backing board in the UR corner is "343/35 13/16 x 24". In graphite on the back of the primary support in the UL corner is "36 x 23 3/4".