National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Shaker Visionary Image Shaker Visionary Image
Rendered by Orville Cline (artist), 1935/1942
pen and ink and watercolor on paper
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Shaker Crafts from the Index of American Design
Object 1 of 17

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing was the official name of the Shakers, or "Shaking Quakers." They earned the name Shakers because of their group dancing, which was an important feature of their religious service. In the decade from 1837 to 1847, Shakers were immersed in an intense emotionalism expressed in elaborate rituals, in visions, and in various psychic experiences. Spirit drawings were received as "gifts" or visions from God. Never regarded as art, they were sacred, pictorial drawings of divine revelations. The Shakers' Millenial Laws placed restrictions on the use of decoration, but through spirit drawings, the Shakers revealed a delight in the ornamental. In this example, the Shaker sense of artistry is expressed in the variety of symbols used. The heart is a symbol of love; lamps and candles represent heavenly light; doves, birds, and the falling feather reflect the daily speech of the Shakers. The clock signifies mortality, while the trees, a common symbol in spirit drawings, represent the Tree of Life.

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