Rembrandt Peale

Self-Portrait, 1828

OTHER IMAGES

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
22 February 1778 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
  DIED:
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.
LINKS

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.

ADAPTED FROM:
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.

The French years provided Franklin’s detractors precisely what they needed: proof that the ur-American was un-American. Franklin was the Founding Father who had come the furthest, which makes him today the most compelling; he was also the Founding Father who traveled the farthest, which in his own century made him the most suspect. Few other homes in Philadelphia sported both Réaumur and Fahrenheit thermometers. The story goes that when Franklin proposed that Congress open its meetings with a prayer, Alexander Hamilton quipped that that body had no need of foreign aid. The story may be apocryphal but the sentiment was real. The expatriate patriot, Franklin was associated in many minds with the dependent chapter of American independence, one better expunged from the record.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)