Rembrandt Peale Galleries
Rembrandt Peale (February 22, 1778 ?C October 3, 1860) was a 19th century American artist that received critical acclaim for his portraits of presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Although modern art critics would consider Peale??s artwork as French neoclassical, its dark and stylized characteristics are similar to 15th and 16th century paintings.
Rembrandt Peale was born the third of six surviving children (eleven had died) to his mother, Rachel Brewer, and father, Charles Willson Peale in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1778. The father, Charles, also a notable artist, taught each child to paint scenery and portraiture, and Rembrandt was no exception. Charles tutored Rembrandt about the importance of having a strong mind from learning arts and sciences. At the age of eight, Rembrandt discovered drawing, and at thirteen, painted his first known self-portrait. Later on in his life, Rembrandt Peale "often showed this painting to young beginners, to encourage them to go from 'bad' to better..." like his steady progressions to become a successful portraitist.
A year after his mother??s death and remarriage of his father, Rembrandt Peale left the school of the arts, thereby applying his time to completing his first ever self-portrait at the age of 13. The canvas illustrates early mastery of a young aspiring artist, seeming very mature. The clothes, however give the notion that Peale over-exaggerated what a 13 year old would look like. This style demonstrates early forms of neoclassicism by the looks of Peale's angel-like hair, the way it waves and curls in such a fashion so as to depict an angel from a general Renaissance artist's works of art.
In July of 1787, Charles Willson Peale introduced his son Rembrandt to George Washington, where the young aspirant artist watched his father paint the remarkable figure of the country. In 1795, at the age of 17, Rembrandt painted an aging Washington, though the painter had depicted the politician as far more aged than the original facial characteristics. It did, nevertheless attain praise and Rembrandt had begun his debut.
At the age of 20, Rembrandt married 22-year-old Eleanor May Short (1776-1836) at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Philadelphia. During their marriage, Rembrandt and Eleanor had nine children: Rosalba, Eleanor, Sarah Miriam, Michael Angelo, and Emma Clara among them.
In 1822, Peale moved to New York City where he embarked on an attempt to paint what he hoped would become the "standard likeness" of Washington. He studied portraits by other artists including John Trumbull, Gilbert Stuart and his own father, as well as his own 1795 picture which had never truly satisfied him. His resulting work Patriae Pater, completed in 1824, depicts Washington through an oval window, and is considered by many to be second only to Gilbert Stuart's iconic Athenaeum painting of the first president. Peale subsequently attempted to capitalize on the success of what quickly became known as his "Porthole" picture. Patriae Pater was purchased by Congress in 1832 and still hangs in the U.S. Capitol.
Later on, Peale made over 70 detailed replicas of the same "father of our country", the first President of the United States. Peale continued to paint other noted portraits, such as those of the third president Thomas Jefferson while he was in office (1805), and later on a portrait of Chief Justice John Marshall.
Rubens Peale with Geranium
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC