Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860)
Think that you may own a painting by Rembrandt Peale? We authenticate, appraise and research all paintings by this great artist.
Rembrandt Peale was an early American portrait painter, born in Pennsylvania. He camefrom a family of talented artists and was the second son of famous painter Charles Willson Peale and the brother of fellow painters Raphaelle and Rubens Peale. Like his brother, Peale was trained by his father and became one of the leading portrait painters of his day.
He began to paint portraits at the age of 17, and eventually traveled to London to study under his father and Benjamin West for three years. Peale also traveled the east coast of the United States from 1795-1800 with his brother, Raphaelle painting portraits of prominent figures in each of the towns they visited from New York to Georgia.
HPeale, like his father and brother, painted portraits of prominent people of the day, including important early American figureheads like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Peale, like so many other artists of the day, created a series of portraits of George Washington. His portrait of Jefferson has been hailed as the standalone masterpiece in his oeuvre.
Rembrandt Peale was perhaps one of the more talented painters in his family, exceeding even his father in mastery of portraiture. Peale portrayed his sitters looking very dignified, realistic and luminous. Perhaps Peale's success in portraiture was due to the fact that his father, Charles Willson, was more interested in being a "Renaissance Man" and did not devote himself wholly to art. His brother, Raphaelle, was also more interested in still life compositions. Undoubtedly, Rembrandt appears to be the master of portraiture in his family, not unlike the old master Rembrandt which was his namesake.
One of the most intriguing things about Rembrandt Peale's portraits is the attention given to the expression and position of his sitters. Each of his sitters has their own personality and Rembrandt Peale was not afraid to portray them situated in unusual profiles, amusing positions and interesting compositions. While many other portrait painters in early America were subscribing to a regimented method of creating portraiture, Rembrandt Peale had a slightly more loose method.
Rembrandt Peale also certainly created a few landscapes and still life compositions throughout his career, though these are far less common or grand. Peale created lithographs as well, and like his father, was something of a renaissance man and wrote and lectured on natural history.
Peale also painted genre scenes and was the court appointed painter to Napoleon I while he was living in Paris from 1808-1810. Upon his return from Europe, Peale took over for John Trumbull as the President of the American Academy. He also became one of the founding members of the rival Academy of Design, and helped his father to run their museum in Baltimore.
Today, Rembrandt Peale's portraits and paintings are housed in public and private collections world wide, and perhaps in your own home. Still wondering about an heirloom portrait hanging in your family's estate? Contact us...it could be by Rembrandt Peale.