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 Rembrandt Peale  (1778 - 1860)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: portrait, historical genre, and animal painting, lithography

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Ad Code: 1
Rembrandt Peale
from Auction House Records.
Equestrian Portrait of George Washington
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Rembrandt Peale was born in 1778 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the second son of Charles Willson Peale.  At the age of eight he began to draw.  He painted his first portrait at the age of thirteen.  At the age of seventeen he painted the last portrait of George Washington to be done from life, although there is some ambiguity as to how much help he received from his father.  He became a student at classes organized by his father and other Philadelphia artists and also studied the chemistry of pigments at the University of Pennsylvania's new medical school.

In 1796, together with his brother Raphaelle, he established a museum in Baltimore, Maryland.  He then assisted his father in unearthing and assembling the first complex skeleton of a mastodon ever found.  In 1802 he visited London, studied under Benjamin West and exhibited at the Royal Academy the following year.  In 1808 and 1809 he met with considerable success as a portraitist in Paris, where many celebrities sat for him.  He returned to America in 1811 and attempted once more to establish the museum, which had failed in Baltimore in 1799.  It was opened in 1814, and is now restored as the Municipal Museum of that city.

Rembrandt continued to paint until his death, turning out occasional portraits and making copies of his original Washington.  He served as President of the American Academy of Art.  He died in 1860.

Sources include:
Masterpieces of Art, Catalogue of the New York World's Fair, 1940
From the Internet,
Article in Smithsonian Magazine written by Lillian B. Miller (date unknown)

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher form Laguna Woods, California.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Rembrandt Peale was the second son and pupil of Charles Willson Peale.  He became a much accomplished portrait painter, especially noted for his portraits of George Washington.

He painted his first portrait at age 13, and at age 17, obtained a sitting by George Washington. This subject began a lifetime quest of trying to produce the most fitting image of Washington and have it accepted as the President's official likeness.  During the 1840s and 50s, he made over seventy replicas which provided him with a continuous income.

In 1797, he and his brother Raphaelle opened a museum of art and natural history in Baltimore, but it was not successful.  He then assisted his father in unearthing and assembling the first complete skeleton of a mastodon ever found. 

Traveling to Paris and London, he decided to paint historical scenes but got negative responses, so he reestablished himself as a successful portrait painter, especially of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  In New York, he served as President of the American Academy of Art and spent the remainder of his life in Philadelphia.

David Michael Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Rembrandt Peale is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Paris Pre 1900

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