Rembrandt Peale

Artist Biography

The life of Rembrandt Peale was as exciting as the oeuvre the artist would produce throughout his tenure as one of America’s most famous portraitists. Born to the illustrious Peale family of Philadelphia, it seemed that Rembrandt was destined for artistic fame at a young age; the artist painted a portrait of George Washington – for which the Commander in Chief sat - at the tender age of seventeen. Rembrandt first studied art under his father’s care and eventually traveled to Europe to view and practice the newest International style, Neoclassicism, in both France and England. Upon returning to the United States, Rembrandt continued to earn his income through the production of portraits, but tried his hand at a number of other genres including history paintings and the occasional landscape. Ever the entrepreneur, Rembrandt opened an art gallery called the Apollodorian in Philadelphia, another museum in Baltimore and also committed himself to the cause of American education. In order to accomplish his personal goal of educating American citizens, Rembrandt published a number of instructive books and articles relaying his general and personal knowledge. In 1835, the artist wrote “Graphics: A Manual of Drawing and Writing, for the Use of Schools and Families,” a schoolbook for people of all ages; he also submitted a number of articles describing his artistic experience in “The Crayon” during the 1850s. Ultimately, Rembrandt’s legacy was formed through his portraits of Washington and his fame as the last living artist who painted the first president from life. Rembrandt Peale’s works form a part of collections across the country, such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Selected Bibliography:

Hevner, Carol Eaton and Miller, Lillian B.. “Rembrandt Peale 1778-1860, A Life in the Arts, An Exhibition at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, February 22, 1985 to June 28, 1985.” Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1985.
Miller, Lillian B. “In Pursuit of Fame: Rembrandt Peale, 1778-1860.” Washington D.C.: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.
“The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.” Jan. 1986, Volume CX, No. 1. (Issue dedicated to Rembrandt Peale.)

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