A childhood spent on David Twining's farm left fond and indelible impressions on Edward Hicks. These memories were so vivid that he chose to represent them on canvas in The Residence of David Twining for posterity during the last years of his life. Just two years earlier, in April of 1843, he had begun to record the major events of his life in his Memoir (published as Memoirs of the Life and Religious Labors of Edward Hicks, Late of Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania Written by Himself,(Philadelphia, 1851). While the Memoir focuses most intently on the struggles and convictions of his Hicksite Quakerism, Hicks tells of the circumstances that occassioned his twelve year sojourn at the Residence of David Twining. He writes of his own mother's untimely death and of the Twinings, his adopted family, whose kindness saved him from neglect and whose devotion to Quakerism instilled in him a value system for which he was forever grateful. In his memoir, he focuses briefly on each member of the Twining family and his familial ties to them is evident. The Residence of David Twining can be seen as the aesthetic translation of sentiments expressed in his Memoir. It is an homage to David and Elizabeth Twining, a supreme expression of his kinship with their youngest daughters, and a proud display of the virtues of all God's creatures. The painting is a microcosm of the universal themes that formed the centerpiece of his life, thoughts, and most important works.
Only four versions of The Residence of David Twining are known, and the one presented here is believed to have been the prototype. Two of the three other versions are in the public collections of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia (figure 1); a third is in a private collection. At least three of the four versions descended through three of the grandchildren of David Twining. The work offered here was painted for David Hutchinson, the son of the eldest, Sarah Twining descended directly to the current owner. At the time that Hicks painted this work, David Hutchinson was the likely owner of the farm. He may have inherited the property from his parents, Sarah and Thomas Hutchinson, as they had purchased it in 1826. The version at the Carnegie Institute was probably painted slightly later for the only daughter of the second Twining daughter, Elizabeth Twining Hopkins (1765-1832) and the version at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center was probably commissioned by the son of Mary Twining and Jesse Leedom around 1846-7 (Mather and Miller, Edward Hicks: His Peaceable Kingdoms and Other Paintings (New Brunswick, 1983), pp.191-194, nos.103, 104, 105).
Subtle but certain details differentiate this painting from the other versions and relate it more closely to Hicks' earliest farmscape, The Residence of Thomas Hillborn, commissioned in 1845 (illustrated in Mather and Miller, p.190, no.101, and further discussed in American Paintings from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center (Williamsburg, 1988), pp.275-6.). The version offered here is the only one with a date stone or cipher above the front door of the farmhouse. While the other versions have straight trunks and almost bush-like foliage, this work has a curved branch and delicately executed leaves much like the trees in the background of the Hillborn farm. The Rockefeller version, thought to be the latest, is the most animated. David Twining has turned around to face the viewer and Hicks appears to have taken more risks with the composition populating it with a greater number of animals. In the painting offered here, Hicks has spaced out the figures, concentrating on measured distances. These tendencies between earlier and later versions precisely mirror the characteristic developments in his long series of Peaceable Kingdoms.
Another aspect of Hicks' working method displayed here is his frequent improvisation from published prints. In this painting, the figures mouting horses at center are composed in nearly the exact manner as George Washington and his men in Thomas Sully's Washington Passing the Delaware, Evening Previous to the Battle of Trenton, December 25, 1776, painted in 1825 (figs. 2,3). Hicks, who painted a full-scale interpretation of this painting as early as 1825 was certainly familiar with a print of the Sully painting. Similarly, is the large bull amongst the livestock that appears in a number of Hicks' later works is thought to have been derived from a series of lithographs by Gustavus Canton (see Mather and Miller, p.82).
Set within the tradition of his farmscapes and with many apparent comparisons to his Peaceable Kingdoms, Hicks has nonetheless, devised a compositional formula unique in his oeuvre for his Residence of David Twining. Loosely divided into six sections of fore, middle, and backgrounds, and again in half, the painting's midpoints correspond to the tree at top center and the upper edge of the grass patch at left. Placement of figures, relationships between people and houses, and overall compositional similarities between the works of these masters and this painting are fascinating and reveal a knowledge probably derived from prints of works by famous Dutch painters such as Pieter Bruegel (ca.1525-1569) and especially by Jacob and Abel Grimer (1525-1590; ca.1575-1569).
THE TWINING FAMILY AND THEIR FARM
The Residence of David Twining depicts the members of the household engaged in the everyday activities of the farm. With vaguely stratified sections, Hicks presents both the the symbiotic nature of the whole and a tableau of distinct character studies.
In the front right of the painting, the patriarch, David Twining (1722-1791) dressed in traditional Quaker garb is opening the proverbial gate, allowing the normally cordoned-off animals free reign. His wife, Elizabeth (1737-1806) wears what appears to be a fur collar over her blue dress, and sits on a joined chair with an open bible on her lap, with the young Edward Hicks by her side. In 1785, David was sixty three, Elizabeth forty eight, and Edward Hicks was five years old. To them, Hicks gives his highest praise. He wrote that "David Twining was one of the most respectable, intelligent, and wealthy farmers in the county of Bucks, having been chosen one of the Provincial Assembly, though an exemplary member of the Society of Friends."(Memoir, p.3).
It is Elizabeth Twining who is Hicks' greatest heroine. He believed that she had been "providentially appointed" to adopt him and to be his "delegated shepherdess." Of Elizabeth he writes that although she lost her parents and was left poor at an early age without formal schooling, schooling, "read the Scriptures with a sweetness, solemnity of feeling I never heard equalled." Her portrait in the painting is illuminated further when one considers the influence of her religious instruction on the young boy; he wrote, "How often have I stood, or sat by her, before I could read myself; and heard her read, particularly the 26th chapter of Matthew, which made the deepest impression on my mind. It was there that all the sympathy of my heart, all the finer feelings of my nature, were concentrated in love to my blessed Saviour" (Hicks, p.24).
In the middle ground, above the idyllic world of the father, mother, and son trio, is Mary Twining (1768-1843) perched upon a horse with her husband, Jesse Leedom (1764-1845), who is attempting to mount the second horse (fig.2). Mary, who would have been twenty one in 1785 does not seem to be influenced by Hicks' later memories of her; he wrote in 1843, "Mary married Jesse Leedom, a member of the Society of Friends, the son of a wealthy and enterprising merchant and farmer in Northampton. They are both still living, worthy Friends, but well stricken in years. Mary seems nearly worn out, and should I survive her, I shall have to say, I have lost the best friend I have in the world out of my own family. She was more like her mother than any of her sisters." Mary, who survived her parents and sisters, died soon after Hicks wrote these words, but her spirit is eulogized in the lively image of her here. Hicks returned to the figures of Mary and Jesse Leedom in 1849, the year of his own death, in his Leedom Farm, where Mary is again presented with a knowing grace but there, the stillness of her upright stance is more elusive and she has become more iconographic (illustrated in Ford, Edward Hicks: His Life and Art (New York, 1985), p.224).
Above Mary and Jesse Leedom is Beulah, the youngest of the Twining daughters, standing before the farmhouse. This house, which still stands (figs.7,8), was where the township library was kept, and where four daughters and an adopted son were raised. Hicks tells us that Beulah was "possessed of more than ordinary powers"...and while "certainly calculated to be greatly good...the improper indulgence of her eccentric self-will, threw her out of orbit." Despite being a complicated person whose life deviated from traditional practices, Hicks continues that she was the favorite, or pet of her father, and transacted the principal part of his business (Hicks, p.22). Beulah, who loved to "read novels by moonlight," married Doctor Samuel Torbert in 1791 ("whose only recommendation was a handsome exterior" according to Hicks), against the will of her parents and the order of her religious society. By 1792, just after her father died, she returned to the farm and applied for a divorce - a process which consumed an inordinate amount of the personal resources left to her. She never married again and had no children but was eventually divorced, reaccepted into the Society of Friends, and lived the rest of her life on the farm.
Documents related to Beulah's divorce and return to the farm including a series of sworn depositions filed in the Supreme Courts of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and Litchfield, Connecticut., present a captivating window into the Twining farm and the environment that David and Elizabeth Twining fostered. Through depositions of her elder sister Sarah Twining Hutchinson and her mother Elizabeth Twining, we learn that Beulah's separation from her husband began when she became sick in December 1791 while visiting her mother. Sarah testified that Dr. Torbet did not answer repeated messages about his wifes condition and details how he neglected her whe he finally did arrive. Her mother testifies to the late David Twining's "uneasy feeling" about Beulah's chosen husband. In addition, the testimony of William Hopkins who was married to Elizabeth, the second Twining daughter, taken in January 1795, reveals that the family tried to work out a compromise with Torbert, involving a sum of money in exchange for a "discharge of all Claims or Demands" on Beulah - an offer the Doctor refused. The series of documents, on file at the Litchfield Library in Connecticut, shows the support offered Beulah by her family through hard times.
In 1792, a family friend named John Story testified regarding the property left to Beulah, by her father who had recently deceased. He claimed that Twining added a codicil to his will just before he died which read: "...on further consideration of it I do give all the lands and Tenements and appurtenances thereunto belonging unot my loving Brother Jacob Twining and friend Thomas Story In Trust for the use and benefit and behoof of my daughter Beulah Torbet for and during her natural life, they or the Survivor of them to rent out in the best manner they can, so that no Waste is made of the Timber and the best care that can be to preserve the land from abuse from extravagant Tillage she my aforesaid daughter Beulah Torbet to have all the rents issues and profits arising from the aforesaid plantation..." (testimony, September, 1792).
Considering the codicil to David Twining's will, and Beulah's jurisdiction over the farm from the early 1790s, it seems appropriate that Hicks would present Beulah close to the farmhouse and concerned with her chores. Beulah's eventual recovery and responsibility for the farm can also be deduced from a series of letters written to her by Henry Jackson, a young medical student, who had evidently spent time at the farm. His memories of time spent with her at "Concord," the name for the farm that he repeatedly refers to, are heartfelt as is his supplication for an invitation for the following summer.
The entire left side of the painting relates to the congeniality of those indulging in what Hicks would have thought of as "humble industry." Hicks was vehement about teaching the younger generation that following the path of humble industry would lead to "the enjoyment of rational happiness in this world" and "everlasting happiness in the world to come" (Hicks, p.172). The open stables, assemblage of farm equipment, and barn in the left background are poised for constant use; in the middle ground an African-American leads a plow driven by a team of horses. Below, in the left foreground Hicks has created an extraordinary grouping of livestock. In a composition that begs comparison to his Peaceable Kingdoms, Hicks has taken delight in the vibrancy of their expressions and in the interconnectedness of their formal relationships. By exploiting details such as the pigs' tails, bulls' antlers, the ram's horns, and all of the ears, emphasizing unusual, almost whimsical poses, he creates distinctions. The ram and sheep closest to the gate appear anxious to run out; the pigs and two of the three bulls are more hesitant but will probably soon follow suit. The eyes of the animals are especially well-defined; as compared to those of the family members, they are large, outlined, and accentuated further by lashes. The group is larger than any other discrete grouping in the painting, they are blatantly conceived and located, and their significance as full-fledged members of the Twining farm cannot be overstated. As in his Peceable Kingdoms (see lot 136), Hicks has elevated their status within God's Kingdom on earth.
THE TWINING FARM
It was David Twining's grandfather, Stephen Twining (1659-1720), who purchased the land upon which the Twining farm is located in Newtown, Pennsylvania (fig.6). Stephen's father William II (1625-1703) formerly of Eastham, Massachusetts, relocated to Newton in 1695 to avoid religious persecution. He and Stephen had recently changed religious alliances from the Congregational Church to the Society of Friends and seeking a community sympathetic to Quakers, chose to settle in Bucks County. Both Stephen and William were leaders of Friends at Newtown, each holding meetings at their houses. Stephen was appointed Overseer in 1713 and Elder in 1715 of the Friends Society at Newtown. Between 1695 and 1701 he purchased tracts of land which totaled 690 acres of combined Town and Coutnry lots, making him one of the largest landowners in the town. It was an area bordered on the west by the Neshaminy River and on the south by the Newtown Creek that became David Twining's Farm. When Stepehn died, his property was divided between his sons and much of it was dispersed. John Twining (1693-1775) spent his life on the property that became the Twining Farm, passing a part of it to his son David. Inheriting only a small part of the original Stephen Twining property, he re-purchased tracts and he grew his land to 390 acres of the original purchase to the west of Newtown creek.
David Twining left the farm in trust to his youngest daughter, Beulah. When Beulah died, Sarah and Thomas Hutchinson purchased the property. It may be postulated that their son, for whom this painting was made for, inherited the farm.