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 Peter Frederick Rothermel  (1817 - 1895)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: genre, history, portrait, religion

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Ad Code: 3
Peter Frederick Rothermel
from Auction House Records.
St. Paul on Mars Hill
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
One of America's best known history painters, Peter Rothermel suffered diminished professional reputation when the public's taste turned away from dramatically charged historical and imagined events.

He was born in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania, probably in 1817, but there is confusion because his birth date has also been given as 1814 and 1812. He was first trained as a surveyor and then as a sign painter and spent much time studying the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was a student of John Rowson Smith and Bass Otis, but later disavowed Otis as being a bad influence on his work.

He became a portrait painter in Philadelphia, but turned to history painting, which was then considered the most worthy subject for a professional artist. One of his most famous paintings is "Patrick Henry in the House of Burgesses of Virginia," which some critics consider the best historical painting ever done in America.

In 1856, he went to Rome and lived there until 1859, and after the Civil War was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Legislature to paint a huge work of the Battle of Gettysburg. It took him three years to complete it, but it was too large for its intended location, so it was placed in Harrisburg in the William Penn Memorial Museum. He quit painting in the mid 1880s because of poor health.

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Civil War Art

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