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James Miller, Peaceable Kingdom, n.d.
Oil on canvas, 31.1 x 38.1 in., McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Gift of Alexandria & Michael N. Altman P’22, 2019.1
The sixth-century BCE Jewish Book of Isaiah speaks of an era when “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (11:6). This prophecy was later interpreted by many Christians to describe the Second Coming of Christ, and became a favorite subject for American artists in the nineteenth century—most famously, Quaker painter Edward Hicks (1780–1839), who painted the scene at least sixty-two times.
One of Edward Hicks’s many depictions of the “peaceable kingdom,” c. 1833, Worcester Art Museum
This example of the genre is by the obscure American artist James Miller. While we do not know precisely when he lived, we can deduce from stylistic elements that the work is likely from the nineteenth century and that he spent some time studying European painting, even though his odd sense of scale and eclectic flora reveal a charming naiveté.