A Finding Aid to the Rembrandt and Harriet Peale Collection, circa 1820-1932, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.pealremb
Creators:
Peale, Rembrandt, 1778-1860
Dates:
circa 1820-1932
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.2 Linear feet
Repository:
This collection of papers measures 0.2 linear feet, dates from circa 1820-1932, and provides scattered documentation of the lives of painter Rembrandt Peale and his wife Harriet. There are seven letters from Peale which discuss his Patriae Pater portrait of George Washington and his subsequent attempts to gain a commission from Congress for his equestrian portrait of the first president, as well as illuminating his opinion on patronage for the arts. The collection also contains a copy of Peale's lecture on "Washington and his Portraits," a page with drawings of Roman coins by Peale, two codicils to Harriet Peale's will, printed material including a pamphlet for Peale's The Court of Death and a catalog of sale for Harriet Peale's estate, and photographs of Rembrandt and Harriet Peale.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
This collection of papers measures 0.2 linear feet, dates from circa 1820-1932, and provides scattered documentation of the lives of painter Rembrandt Peale and his wife Harriet. The papers contain seven letters from Peale to various individuals, including Massachusetts senator Elijah Hunt Mills, that document his attempts to seek recognition and recompense from Congress for his portraits of George Washington and illuminate his opinions on patronage of the arts. Also found here is a copy of Peale's lecture on "Washington and his Portraits," and legal papers consisting of two codicils to Harriet Peale's will which list the disposition of Rembrandt Peale paintings in her possession. There is a page with drawings of Roman coins by Peale, printed material including a pamphlet for Peale's popular allegorical painting The Court of Death, and a catalog of sale for Harriet Peale's estate. Photographs picture Rembrandt and Harriet Peale respectively, circa 1850.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as one series.

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860) was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and was the second son of painter Charles Willson Peale. He was known primarily for his historical paintings and portraits, particularly those of George Washington. Peale painted his first Washington portrait in 1795 at the age of 17, in a sitting arranged by his father. From 1795-1800 he traveled in Maryland and the South painting portraits, and from 1801-1803 studied with Benjamin West in London.
Peale returned to Europe from l808 to l8l0, and spent most of his time in Paris where he was inspired to take up historical painting. From 1813-1822 he lived in Baltimore where, in 1814, he established a museum for paintings and natural history that later became known as the Peale Museum. Peale's most famous allegorical painting, Court of Death, was completed in 1820 and was one of the most popular paintings of the decade.
In 1822 Peale moved to New York City where he embarked on an attempt to paint what he hoped would become the "Standard likeness" of Washington. In the process he reviewed portraits by other artists including John Trumbull, Gilbert Stuart and his father, as well as his own 1795 picture which had never truly satisfied him. His resulting Patriae Pater, completed in 1824, depicts Washington through an oval window, and is considered by many to be second only to Gilbert Stuart's iconic Athenaeum painting of the first president. Peale subsequently attempted to capitalise on the success of what quickly became known as his "Porthole" picture, collecting tesimonials praising the portrait from people who had known the president, and lobbying Congress, in vain, for a commission to paint an equestrian portrait of Washington. Despite his failure to gain such a commission, "Patriae Pater" was purchased by Congress in 1832 and still hangs in the U.S. Capitol.
Peale subsequently produced over 70 replicas of the "porthole" picture and in the late 1850s delivered a series of lecture entitled "Washington and his Portraits" along the East coast. He was also an accomplished writer and lecturer on natural history, and was among the founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a president of the American Academy, and a founder of the National Academy.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
The papers of Rembrandt and Harriet Peale in the Archives of American Art were digitized in
2008
and total
183
images.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection were microfilmed on receipt on reels 3470, 3646, and D9. All accessions were integrated and fully processed by Stephanie Ashley in 2008 and digitized in 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Provenance
In 1960, Lawrence A. Fleischman donated one letter. Six items were donated by Charles E. Feinberg in 1962. An additional 35 items were transferred from the National Collection of Fine Arts Library to the Archives in 1979.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Rembrandt and Harriet Peale collection, circa 1820-1932. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Rembrandt and Harriet Peale collection is owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the following collections relating to Rembrandt Peale: the Albert Duveen collection of artists' letters and ephemera, 1808-1910, includes an 1855 September 8 letter from Rembrandt Peale to an unidentifed person, available on 35 mm microfilm reel D9 (frames 848-850); Printed material relating to Rembrandt Peale, 1830-1862, lent for microfilming by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1855, is available on microfilm reel P29; and the Charles Henry Hart autograph collection, 1731-1912, contains a lithograph by Peale available on 35mm microfilm reel D5 (frame 103).

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Economic aspects Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Modern -- 19th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Portrait painting, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coins, Roman Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Portrait painters -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peale, Rembrandt, 1778-1860 (Court of death) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington, George, 1732-1799 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peale, Harriet Cany, ca. 1800-1869 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/