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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Peale Family

Whenever we talk about someone's art talent, very often the question arises, "Where did they get it?"  Although it sounds like they might have purchased it somewhere, we all realize we're speaking genetically.  Very often relatives cite uncles or great aunts or distant cousins.  Sometimes it comes from one or more parents (seldom both parents however).  And in some families, the so-called "art gene" may be present in several siblings and their offspring.

Thus, it's no secret that art talent tends to run in families. In this country during the colonial era, the first family of art would have to have been the Peale family. First there were the two brothers, James, and most importantly, Charles Wilson Peale. The latter was first a portrait painter, especially of miniatures, as well as a naturalist, who went so far as to establish the first museum in this country, kind of a showcase, not only for his bone collection, mounted animals, and other artifacts, but for his own art work, and that of his family as well.
The Artist in His Museum, 1822,
Charles Wilson Peale, self-portrait

And what a family it was. In addition to his brother, his niece, Sarah Miriam Peale, was represented as well as his sons, who, from birth, seem to have been destined (or pressured) also to become artists. His four sons took after their father to varying degrees, pursuing careers in painting portraits, miniatures, still life's, and illustrating nature. This is hardly surprising given that their father had named them, Raphaelle, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian.

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