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Paul Peel

 (1861 - 1892)
Paul Peel was active/lived in Ontario, Pennsylvania / Canada, France.  Paul Peel is known for interior, figure, genre and portrait painting.

Paul Peel

Biography from the Archives of askART

Paul Peel's work was very popular in both his lifetime and today. It is executed mainly in oil and employs genre, landscape, interiors, marine and portrait subjects. His conservative style reflects what was being taught in the French government academies at the time, but at the time of his death, Peel appeared to be changing his style toward impressionism.

Paul's father, John R. Peel was a marble cutter interested in the arts who came from England with his wife to London, Ontario, in 1856 and eventually opened a successful monument business in that city. At an early age, Paul, the youngest, showed a remarkable talent. His father, who also taught art at the Old Mechanics Institute and held classes at the back of his shop, encouraged him. For two years Paul also studied under an English painter, William Lees Judson, who had settled in London before becoming founder and first dean of the College of Fine Arts in Los Angeles. By 1877 Paul, then 17, had won prizes at the city's Western Fall Fair and had been accepted as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia where he studied for three years.

Returning to Canada, he briefly set up a studio in Toronto but soon left for England and thence to France in 1881 where he first painted in Brittany and then moved to Paris to study under such eminent artists as Boulanger, Gerome, and Constant at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. Handsome with a well-trimmed Van Dyke, Peel was an accomplished fencer. His friendly, outgoing personality and fluency in French made him a popular member of France's artistic community that included many Canadians and Americans. In 1882 he married Isaure Verdier from Denmark, a student painter of miniatures, whom he met through his sister Mildred while she was visiting him in Brittany. He kept in constant touch with his family, sending many of his paintings home. At the Western Fall Fair in 1883, he won six firsts but some complained that his father, as manager of the Fair's art exhibit, had rigged the jury panel all local clergymen. That year he also had his first painting accepted by the Paris Salon.

In 1889 he won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon for a child study, "The Modest Model," and the following year he painted his most famous work, "After the Bath," which established him as one of the truly outstanding painters of young children. "After the Bath" won third class medal at the Paris Salon. In 1891, the Hungarian Government acquired "After the Bath," which was exhibited at the Paris Salon, the Ontario Society of Artists and the Toronto Industrial Exhibition.

Peel was elected full member of the Royal Canadian Academy. As his mother was seriously ill, Peel returned to Canada in July 1890 to visit his family. He stayed until November painting various Canadian scenes from London to Quebec City. He attended the Canadian Chautauqua (a touring Mechanics Institute program) at Niagara-on-the-Lake. His works were exhibited at Tecumseh House at London, Ontario in September. Before returning to Europe after the death of his mother, he held an exhibition and auction in Toronto of more than 60 of his paintings. Although many of the city's leading citizens attended, the sale of 57 of the paintings realized only a disappointing $2,746. The single highest bid was $325 for "The Venetian Bather," which was then loaned to a Yonge Street barroom and may thereby have been the first nude on display in Toronto. It was purchased by the National Gallery five years later.

Peel returned to Paris, a month before his 32nd birthday he suddenly became ill in late September and died on October 3rd at his Paris home of a lung disorder.

Source: Treadway/Toomey Galleries

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About  Paul Peel

Born:  1861 - London, Ontario, Canada
Died:   1892 - Paris, France
Known for:  interior, figure, genre and portrait painting