Rembrandt Peale

Self-Portrait, 1828


22 February 1778 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
3 October 1860 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Buried at The Woodlands in Philadelphia.

  • Two of Rembrandt Peale’s brothers are especially known today. Raphaelle Peale (1774 - 1825), was one of the earliest of American still-life painters. Titian Ramsey Peale (1800 - 85), made numerous drawings, some of them in water-color, illustrating animal life.

Rembrandt Peale, American painter, scion of artists, and son of Charles Willson Peale, was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania in 1778. He studied under his father, under Benjamin West in London (1802 - 03), and for two years in Paris (1807 - 09).

As early as 1795 he had begun an artistic career with a life portrait of Washington. From this portrait he created a number of copies; he also used it as the starting point for his famous Patriae Pater, purchased by the United States government in 1832, and now in the Senate of the U.S. Capitol.

Peale succeeded John Trumbull as president of the American Academy of Fine Arts (founded in 1802 as the New York Academy of Fine Arts), and he was one of the original members of the National Academy of Design. He wrote several books, among them Notes on Italy (1831) and Reminiscences of Art and Artists (1845). In 1843 he devised a system of teaching drawing and penmanship for Philadelphia public schools.

Peale was one of the first of American lithographers. He was an excellent draftsman, but in color his work cannot rank with that of his father.

His portraits include those of President Jefferson, Chief Justice John Marshall, French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, and an Equestrian Portrait of George Washington.

He died in Philadelphia in 1860.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.

[Lord Frederick] North defended his role in the war for America to his death. He insisted that it did not originate in a despotic wish to tyrannise America, but from the desire of maintaining constitutional authority of Parliament over the colonies. He admitted that the war with American had been unfortunate but not unjust, adding that if he had been forced to mount the scaffold in consequence of the part that I have performed in its prosecution, I shall continue to maintain that it was founded in right and dictated by necessity.

Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy
The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (2013)