The Fable of the Flute & the Piccolo
The Fable of the Flute and the Piccolo 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, three creatures that would not normally come across each other or interact in the real world are brought together in the harmonious surroundings of the Peaceable Kingdom. As in many fables, such as those by Aesop, and as in some other paintings belonging to this series, the animals are given human qualities; namely, the ability to play musical instruments. Flutes are the earliest known musical instruments, meaning that they have long since been present in popular music traditions, while both instruments are often associated with happiness because of the lightness of their tone.