James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on gray (now oxidized) laid paper. 9 9/16 x 7 7/16 in. • 24.3 x 18.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on gray (now oxidized) laid paper. 9 1/2 x 7 7/16 in. • 24.1 x 18.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper; 74 x 60 cm. John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, Katonah, NY.

attrib. family member of James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on gray paper; 9 x 7 in. (22.9 x 17.8 cm). The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

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)