Monday, November 5, 2012

American painter Reubens Peale 1784-1865




Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Rubens Peale with a Geranium 1801


Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Rubens Peale 1807


Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Portrait of Rubens Peale 1834


If you visit this blog regularly, you know that I favor portraits over other paintings.  In the case of Reubens Peale, the portraits are of Reubens, not by him. Reubens Peale was the 4th son of Charles Willson Peale. Rubens had weak eyes &, unlike most of his siblings, did not set out to be an artist. He traveled with the family in 1802 to Britain,  returning in 1803, to attend classes at the University of Pennsylvania. He became Director of his father's museum in Philadelphia from 1810 to 1821, and then of the Peale Museum in Baltimore, with his brother, Rembrandt Peale. He opened his own museum in New York in 1825, (along with the opening of the Erie Canal). By 1840, Peale changed the name to the New York Museum of Natural History & Science. The Panic of 1837 sent his museum into debt, as it competed with the American Museum, of P.T. Barnum. Rubens sold his entire collection to Barnum in 1843.  In October 1855, he turned to still life painting, as an extension of his interest in natural history. In 1864, he returned to Philadelphia, and studied landscape painting with Edward Moran. In the last 10 years of his life, he produced 130 paintings.


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Still Life with Grapes


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Still Life with Magpie


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Apple and Two Pears on Pewter Plate


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Basket of Fruit 1860


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Cake and Wine Glass


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Silver Basket of Fruit


Reubens Peale (American artist, 1784-1865) Still Life with Watermellon

The sad life of American artist Raphaelle Peale 1774-1825




1823 Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) After The Bath

Browsing through a 40-year-old catalogue 19th-Century America: Paintings and Sculpture, I happened upon this painting, which is so unlike the rest of Raphaelle Peale's work. It is sometimes called Venus Rising from the Sea - A Deception.

This catalogue, published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title at the Met, gives a different version of the painting's creation & a different name, After the Bath. The intriguing caption reads: "By 1823 Raphealle Peale had become an alcoholic and was painting solely to pay his bills--reducing his prices, even raffling off man of his still lifes. After the Bath, which shows the lighter, fun-loving side of his nature, was done at the end of his difficult life. It was painted by Raphaelle apparently to shock & fool his hot-tempered wife, Patty, who nagged him day & night. This illusion of a naked woman behind a sheet was supposedly so successful that Patty tried to pull the sheet away and instead--much to her husband's amusement--found herself scratching the canvas. Although the work is best known for its witty subject, the superb treatment of light on the creased white linen sheet marks it as a masterpiece among American still-life compositions."

Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Portrait of Raphaelle Peale on Staircase 1795

Raphaelle Peale & Martha (Patty) McGlathery, his red-haired bride, met, when he was 20 in 1794.  The couple were neighbors in Philadelphia, where Raphaelle's parents had a large home on the corner of Third & Lombard Sts.; Matthew McGlathery, his wife, also named Martha, & their daughter lived in a modest row home around the corner at 25 George St.

The Peale & McGlathery families were from different spheres in Philadelphia society. Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) outlived 3 wives, fathered 16 children, & founded an artistic dynasty lasting nearly a century. Peale created the country's first museum of natural history & made the city's first use of gas to illuminate it. He received the first patent from the U.S. Patent Office, was a master of painting in oils, watercolor & miniatures. The bride's father Matthew McGlathery was a builder & carpenter who helped construct Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia.

Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Martha (Patty) McGlathery Peale

Raphaelle was the oldest child of Charles Willson & Rachel Peale. Both father & son had a talent for art, music & poetry, plus a penchant for mechanical inventions & a love of entertainment. But Raphaelle was plagued by mood swings exascerbated by excessive drinking. At age 12, he had begun assisting his father in the museum, located initially in their home. An expanding number of exhibits prompted Peale to move both his family & collection to the recently completed Philosophical Hall, on south 5th St. Later the museum required even larger quarters, the "Long Room" on the 2nd floor of Independence Hall. To obtain exotic specimens of birds & animals, 18 year old Raphaelle was sent on a collecting expedition to South America.

In 1794, Charles Willson Peale decided to devote himself completely to the prospering museum, & relinquished portrait painting to Raphaelle & Rembrandt, a younger brother. That same year Raphaelle painted Patty's portrait & determined to marry her.  Reportedly Charles Willson opposed the match, but father & son remained close. The following year, the youthful artist made his professional debut at a major 1795 exhibition; where he showed 13 portraits & still lifes, at which he was particularly adept.

Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Matthew McGlathery

Most of that year, he & Rembrandt devoted to copying 60 of their father's best known portraits for exhibition in Charleston & Savannah. The Peale brothers did obtain portrait commissions for themselves. They sailed back to Philadelphia not long before Raphaelle's wedding at the Third Presbyterian Church at Fourth & Pine Sts on May 25, 1797. Home with his new bride for hardly 3 years, Raphaelle taught himself taxidermy by mounting specimens for the museum. His large portraits never sold well. Still lifes, at which he excelled, were not in vogue. But miniatures were.  Peale mastered the technique of applying watercolors to thin slices of ivory. Early in 1800, he was in Baltimore, where he advertised that in a few months he already had painted 72 miniatures as keepsakes.

Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827)  Portrait of his son Raphaelle Peale 1822

Peale's best remembered work - "After the Bath" - dating from 3 years before his death & was intended as a joke on Patty. Shocked that her husband would paint a nude, she actually tried to unpin the linen napkin shielding the model's modesty. Imagine Patty's surprise, when she discovered there was no nude. Pins & napkin were oil paint on canvas.

Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Martha McGlathery, Martha's mother

During his last 2 decades, Raphaelle journeyed through the South's eastern states seeking commissions, as his increasingly heavy drinking led to illness & loss of income.  Peale's only genuine financial success was with the physiognotrace, a recently invented device for tracing small silhouette profiles on paper. Wherever he traveled - Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina & Georgia - people flocked to have their profiles made. In less than a year, he reportedly cut an incredible 86,430 silhouettes &, more importantly, earned his only real wealth. But soon the fad died. Later trips were failures. 

Charles Willson Peale wrote of family events. (July, 1803) "...Patty is up & bravely, would you guess it, in half an hour — no less than twins. Mrs. McGlathery is much with her; you need not fear that anything will be wanting at home..."  Sadly, the twins died. By month's end, Raphaelle was home for the baptism of 3 children born earlier. Four children were born in later years.

Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Martha Sellman Welch

On the prospects of home ownership, the elder Peale wrote (September 1804): "...You must know how desirable it is to have a place to call your own, & live free of rent, & now is your time when your children are young & least expensive... The house will scarcely be ready to go into before the middle of next month. I tell Patty, the longer she can keep out of it, the better; her feelings must determine whether she can wait for the completion of it..."

Charles Willson Peale's letters also glimpse the couple's downward spiral. In February, 1806, he wrote:   "...I haste to let you know that I will not let Patty suffer for want of money while I have it in my power to supply her. I don't know what she wrote, or even wish to be informed; perhaps she is sorry for it, as when I called there, she said she would give anything to recall it... You must not suppose I want any indemnification for what I am able to do for your family . . I wish to be serviceable to my children as far as I can do it..."

Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Margaret George McGlathery

A year later, the elder Peale recounted Patty's heartache resulting from her husband's travels & drinking.  "...She complained it is hard to live separated. I justified it from the necessity of the case, & I also gave her some hints how to make home more agreeable to induce those we are connected with to stay with each other. She said we are very happy when he don't drink, & yet she said you could not do without it, for if you passed one day, a tremour came on you & you was miserable until you had it . . My answer is that it was wrong for anyone to drink anything but water..."

Crippled at times by drink & gout, Raphaelle continued traveling until 1824, the year before his death. Too ill to leave home, he turned to poetry, writing "lovesick poems - little couplets" for a baker to place in cakes. On March 5, having given the baker his latest efforts, Raphaelle complained of an attack of gout in the stomach. A hot toddy, intended to help, caused him to collapse & die.  Raphaelle is buried in St. Peter's churchyard, just a few steps from the grave of his father & next to Patty, the house carpenter's daughter, who died in 1852.

Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints and Angels

Most information for this posting from an educational article by Carl G. Karsch at the website of Carpenter's Hall. 


A few Still Lifes by Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825)





Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Melons and Morning Glories


Raphaelle Peale was America's first professional still-life painter.  His own father, Charles Willson Peale, & most theorists of the era believed that still life was a subject worthy only of amateurs. They considered portraiture to be more admirable. Raphaelle's defiant pursuit of still life resulted in some of the most beautiful American paintings of the nineteenth century.


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Orange And A Book


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Cutlet and Vegetable 1816


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) A Basket Of Peaches


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Tabletop Still Life 1810


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Still Life with Cake


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) A Bowl Of Peaches


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Still Life With Steak 1816-1817


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Strawberries and Nuts


Raphaelle Peale (American artist, 1774-1825) Basket of Peaches 1816



Portraits by American Artist Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860)

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Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Portrait of Harriet Cany Peale 1840

Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860) was an artist & museum keeper. Rembrandt Peale was born the 3rd of 6 surviving children (11 had died) to his mother, Rachel Brewer, & artist father, Charles Willson Peale in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The father taught all of his children the general arts & science & to paint scenery & portraits.


Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) The Sisters (Eleanor and Rosalba Peale)

Rembrandt began drawing at the age of 8 but left his father‘s instruction at 13, a year after his mother’s death & father’s remarriage. Peale visited Europe several times to study art especially Paris, where he studied the neoclassical style.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Rosalba Peale at a Window

Motivated by his father’s 1786 American Museum of Philadelphia, Peale opened his own museum in Baltimore. Peale painted over 600 paintings, concentrating on popular depictions of George Washington & Thomas Jefferson. But he also painted 19th-century American women as well.


 Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Rosalba Peale 1820

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Portrait of the Artist’s Wife Eleanor May Short Peale, ca. 1805.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Olive Foote Lay

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Mary Denison, Later Mrs. Alexander C. Bullitt 1822

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Marie Wheelock Allen 1825

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Juliana Westray Wood

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Jane Griffith Koch 1817


Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Helen Miller (Mrs. Charles G. McLean) 1806

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Dolley Madison

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Alida Livingston Armstrong and Daughter 1810

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Self Portrait 1828

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Self Portrait 1846


Mostly Portraits by American Artist James Peale 1749-1831

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James Peale (1749-1831). Anna Sophia Alexander Robertson (Mrs. William Heberton) 1816

At the outset of his career, when he was working closely with his brother Charles Willson Peale, James Peale learned to paint both portraits & still-lifes, while he was making frames for his brother's works.

James Peale ( 1749-1831). Martha Washington (1731-1802) 1796

By the mid-1780s, James had established his own artistic reputation independent from his older brother Charles.

James Peale (1749-1831). The Ramsey-Polk Family in Cecil County, Maryland 1793

At about this time, Charles Willson Peale turned over his own miniature portrait practice to him; and throughout the 1790s & early 1800s, James Peale devoted himself to miniature painting. Much of this work was watercolor on ivory.

James Peale (1749-1831), Maria Bassett, 1801.

In 1795, Peale exhibited a still life of fruit along with 9 miniatures & his family portrait at the Columbianum, a short-lived art academy in Philadelphia.

James Peale (1749-1831). Eliza Hughes

Around 1810, as Peale's eyesight began to weaken, he gave up painting miniatures to turn to larger portraits & still-life subjects, that were greatly admired & widely exhibited in Philadelphia, Boston, & Baltimore.

James Peale (1749-1831). Mary Polly Lawton Bringhurst 1790

The total number of Peale's landscape paintings remains unknown; but he executed more than 200 watercolor miniatures on ivory, perhaps 100 still-life paintings, probably fewer than 70 oil portraits, & at least 8 history paintings.

James Peale (1749-1831). Margarette Peale 1793

James Peale died in Philadelphia on May 24, 1831.

James Peale (1749-1831). Unidentified Girl with Bird 1770-75

James Peale (1749-1831). Ann Emily Rush

James Peale (1749-1831). Girl with a Doll

James Peale (1749-1831). Unidentified Woman 1802

James Peale (1749-1831). Olivia Simes Morris

James Peale (1749-1831). Elizabeth Oliphant 1795

James Peale (1749-1831). Jane Ramsay Peale

James Peale (1749-1831). Marcia Burns (Mrs. John Van Ness) 1797

James Peale (1749-1831). Madame Dubocq and her Children 1807

James Peale (1749-1831). Susanne Correy 1790

James Peale (1749-1831). Mrs Samuel Simes and Edgar

James Peale (1749-1831). Mrs. John McCluney 1795

James Peale (1749-1831) View of the Wissahickon 1830
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