Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)
Oil on canvas
canvas: 28 1/4 x 23 in. ( 71.8 x 58.4 cm ) frame: 33 1/2 x 41 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. ( 85.1 x 105.4 x 8.9 cm )
Charles Willson Peale established himself in the late eighteenth century as one of America's foremost portrait painters, having spent two years abroad in the late 1760s studying his craft in London under the tutelage of the American-born artist, Benjamin West. It was during this period of study that West honored his student by painting this portrait. A man of great energy and encyclopedic interests, Peale gained even greater fame in the 1780s for establishing Peale's Museum in Philadelphia, America's first systematically and scientifically arranged museum of art and natural history. When the museum closed in 1854 and its painting collection was put up for sale, Thomas Jefferson Bryan purchased this and a number of other portraits that the artist and his son, Rembrandt Peale, had painted for the museum's renowned Gallery of Great Men devoted to heroes of the American Revolution and the new republic.
Caffin, Charles H., The Story of American Painting: The Evolution of Painting in America from Colonial Times to the Present, New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1907, p. 13. Morgan, John Hill, Early American Painters: Illustrated by Examples in the Collection of The New-York Historical Society, New York: New-York Historical Society, 1921, pp. 68-9. Catalogue of American Portraits in The New-York Historical Society, New Haven: Yale University Press, Vol. II, 1974, p. 609. Holland, Eugenia Calvert, Four Generations of Commissions: the Peale Collection of the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1975, p. 3. Evans, Dorinda, Benjamin West and His American Students, Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980, pp. 37-48. Richardson, Edgar P., Hindle, Brooke, and Miller, Lillian B., Charles Wilson Peale and His World, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1983, p. 35. Miller, Lillian B. and Ward, David C., Eds., New Perspectives on Charles Wilson Peale: A 250th Anniversary Celebration, Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991, book jacket. Ward, David C., Charles Wilson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, frontispiece, pp. 30-3.
Gift of Thomas Jefferson Bryan
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.