The Aged Elephant and the Mouse who hadn’t been well
The Aged Elephant and the Mouse who hadn’t been well is one of the ten paintings in Ray Ching’s series ‘’Fables from the Peaceable Kingdom’’. Ching has said that he was inspired by the American Quaker and folk-artist Edward Hicks (1780-1840) who over forty years created paintings of an ideal world he imagined in which all creatures lived together in harmony. He called this world the ‘’Peaceable Kingdom’’.
Here, Ching imagines his own Peaceable Kingdom. Unlike Hick’s naïve folk style of painting, Ching’s animals are painted with the almost photographically realistic level of detail he is renowned for. The animals are painted using oils, while the backdrops of his perfect and magical world are 100-year-old cuttings from the comics section of a Sunday newspaper. The fables are all of his own creation.
In this painting, we see an elephant walking along while carrying a mouse on its head. In Western folk tradition, it has been believed for centuries that elephants are afraid of mice. In fact, experiments have been carried out to show that elephants do show fear towards mice, although no one has been able to prove why it should be the case that an animal that is so large should be afraid of one that is so small. The fact that the Aged Elephant appears to be helping the Mouse who hadn’t been well could be interpreted as an example of the harmony of the Peaceable Kingdom.