The Peales: Revolutionaries, Artists, Inventors, Entrepreneurs
The Peales were an exceptional 18th and 19th century American family. Patriarch Charles Willson Peale (1741 – 1827) was best known as a portrait painter and founder of the nation’s first major museum. But he was also a patriot, soldier, politician, inventor, explorer, naturalist, entrepreneur, and the father of sixteen children with three different wives. He was a man of the Enlightenment and shared Rousseau’s novel approach to childrearing—that children should be led by the good examples of their parents, nurtured in a happy domestic environment, and spared the rod. Four of his sons, all named for famous artists, became artists themselves: Raphaelle, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian.
C. W. Peale’s younger brother James Peale (1749 – 1831) will also be featured in this exhibition. Though less of a colorful polymath than Charles, James apprenticed with his brother and became a highly regarded painter in his own right. He was particularly recognized for his miniature watercolor portraits painted on ivory. Of James’ six children, four also became accomplished artists. Notably, all four were women.
Drawing from the extensive APS collections of Peale materials, this exhibition will trace the extraordinary lives of Charles Willson Peale and James Peale, the artistic and scientific accomplishments of their children, and the collaborations between the Peale family members.