Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas; 60.96 cm (24 in) x 50.8 cm (20 in). Private collection.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, Physick House, Philadelphia, PA.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas; 26 3/4 in. x 21 7/8 in. Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas; 22 3/8 x 30 3/8 in. (56.8 x 77.1 cm). Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas. Penn Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections, Philadelphia, PA.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas; 12 ft 2-1/2 in. x 17 ft. 3 in. (3.7 x 5.3 m). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas; 17 1/8 x 14 in. (43.5 x 35.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Monticello, Charlottesville, VA.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Oil on canvas. United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Gouache and pencil on paper, laid down on paper; 24.13 cm (9.5 in.) x 15.88 cm (6.25 in). Private collection.

Charles Willson Peale, despite his devotion to the taxonomic and contemplative majesty of the natural world, nevertheless loved novelties and used all sorts of amusements to attract customers to his museum. He eventually resorted to hiring a popular musical performer who played five different instruments simultaneously, using all parts of his body. Following Peale’s death the museum passed into the enterprising hands of P. T. Barnum, becoming part of his traveling circus — a romantic ending for an Enlightenment institution.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)