(1784 - 1864)

Rubens Peale (May 4, 1784 – July 17, 1865) was an American artist and museum director. Born in Philadelphia, he was a son of artist-naturalist, Charles Willson Peale.


He was the fourth son of Charles Willson Peale. Rubens had weak eyes and, unlike most of his siblings, did not set out to be an artist. He traveled with the family in 1802 to Britain, but was unable to travel on the continent with the outbreak of war.[1] In 1803 he attended classes at the University of Pennsylvania. He became Director of his father's museum in Philadelphia from 1810 to 1821,[2] and then of the Peale Museum in Baltimore, which he ran with his brother, Rembrandt Peale. To promote the museum, he installed gas lighting illumination in the museum.[3][4]

He opened his own museum in New York on October 26, 1825, (along with the opening of the Erie Canal). By 1840, Peale would change the name to the New York Museum of Natural History and Science. The Panic of 1837 sent his museum into debt. It competed with the American Museum, of P.T. Barnum. Rubens had to sell his entire collection to Barnum in 1843.[5][6] He moved to Pottstown, Pennsylvania. In 1837, he retired to his father-in-law, George Patterson's estate near Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, and lived as a country gentleman, at Woodland Farm.[7] He experimented with Mesmerism, and wrote to his brother Rembrandt about it.[8]

In October 1855, he began keeping a Journal,[7] and he turned to still life painting, as an extension of his interest in natural history.[9] In 1864, he returned to Philadelphia, and studied landscape painting with Edward Moran.[10] In the last ten years of his life, he produced one hundred thirty paintings.


On March 6, 1820, he married Eliza Burd Patterson, (December 6, 1795 – 1864)[11] and they had children Charles Wilson, George Patterson, William, Mary Jane (1826–1902) (who also was a painter),[12][13] James Burd, and Edward Burd.[14] Charles Willson Peale (Feb 15, 1821 – Sept 30, 1871) married Harriet Friel (b. Aug 11, 1830), they had a son Albert Charles Peale, (Apr 1, 1849) who was a geologist with the US Geological Survey.[15]

Diary Entries on the Death of Lincoln

April 15, 1865:

sad news of the murder of President Lincon [sic], he was shot while attending a performance at Fords' Theater last night in Washington. The assassin entered his private box and shot him in back of his head and then escaped, the assassin's name is ______,

April the 22nd:

The corpse arrived this afternoon from Harrisburg and it was dark, and although the square was brilliantly illuminated with greek lights each side of the great walk Red, Blue & White, which made a most brilliant appearance and lighted up the wholes square & streets yet much of the procession near lost to us. The crowd was so dence in Walnut Street that police could scarcely keep the crowd back.

April the 23rd:

a fine opportunity of viewing the corpse and decorations of the hall, which was totally covered with black cloth except the statue & portraits of General Washington & wife. I staid [sic] one hour and left Mary gazing on the corpse, she intending to paint a portrait of him...[16]


In 1985, the National Gallery of Art paid $4.07 million of a portrait of him, with a geranium, by his brother Rembrandt Peale.[17] American art history and ophthalmology scholars have studied the painting, and have theories for this unusual depiction of glasses.[18] In 2007, Princeton University Art Museum bought Still Life With Watermelon, in honor of John Wilmerding.[19]


1.    ^ Charles Coleman Sellers (1980). Mr. Peale's Museum. Norton. p. 156.ISBN 0393057003.

2.    ^ Charles Coleman Sellers (1980). Mr. Peale's Museum. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 6. ISBN 9780393057003.

3.    ^ Charles Coleman Sellers (1980). Mr. Peale's Museum. Norton. p. 196.ISBN 0393057003.

4.    ^ "History". Portal.state.pa.us. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

5.    ^ By Jeffrey D. Mason, J. Ellen Gainor (2001). Performing America. University of Michigan Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780472087921.

6.    ^ "The Bowery Boys: New York City History: The forgotten museum of Rubens Peale". Theboweryboys.blogspot.com. 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

1.    ^ a b http://mag.rochester.edu/seeingAmerica/essays/12.swf

2.    ^ Edward John Nygren (April 1970). "Rubens Peale's Experiment with Mesmerism". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (American Philosophical Society) 114, Number 2 (2): 100–108. JSTOR 986028.PMID 11615470.

3.    ^ "''The Peale Family: Creation of an American Legacy, 1770-1870'', Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco". Tfaoi.com. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

4.    ^ http://www.artfact.com/artist/peale-rubens-jhgkb4ywof

5.    ^ Uriah James Jones, William Henry Egle (1899). History of the early settlement of the Juniata Valley. Harrisburg publishing company. pp. 364–365.

6.    ^ "MARY JANE PEALE DEAD.; She Was the Last of Family of Famous Portrait Painters.". The New York Times.. November 23, 1902.

7.    ^ Wolfgang Born (2005). Still Life Painting in America. Kessinger Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 9781419113246.

8.    ^ George Adolphus Hanson (1876). Old Kent. John P. Des Forges. p. 333.

9.    ^ Thomas Patrick Hughes, Frank Munsell (1893). American ancestry8. J. Munsell's sons. p. 133.

10.  ^ "''U.S. President 1861-1865'', Selections from the Archives of American Art". Aaa.si.edu. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

11.  ^ "PEALE PAINTING SETS RECORD FOR U.S. ART"Philadelphia Inquirer: p. D01. December 6, 1985.

12.  ^ Follensbee BJ (1997). "Rubens Peale's spectacles: an optical illusion?". Survey of Ophthalmology 41 (5): 417–24. doi:10.1016/S0039-6257(97)00008-8.PMID 9163840.

13.  ^ Smithson, Ruta (2007-05-07). "Wilmerding to leave a legacy of Pop art to Princeton". Princeton University. Retrieved 2010-03-18.

External links

§  Peale, Rubens, Papers. 1802-03., Originals and microfiche in The Collected Letters of Charles Willson Peale and His Family. Lillian B. Miller, ed. Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Microform, 1980. England.


§  Rubens Peale

§  Mary Jane Peale and Peale family selected papers, (ca. 1815)-1897, Smithsonian Archives of American Art


§  Rubens Peale, Smithsonian American Art Museum

§  Rubens Peale, The Athenaeum

§  Peale Family Collection, The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, The Winterthur Library

§  Rembrandt Peale (artist), 1778-1860, Rubens Peale with a Geranium

§  Rubens Peale, ca. 1800, Raphaelle Peale, Smithsonian American Art Museum

§  Rubens Peale (1784–1865), "Still Life with Watermelon,” 1865

§  Mrs. Rubens Peale (Eliza Patterson Peale), ca. 1821, Charles Willson Peale

§  Elizabeth Burd Patterson Peale, Mary Jane Peale, 1827-1902, painter

§  Eliza Burd Patterson Peale, 1860, Mary Jane Peale (American, 1827-1902), Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art


Source: Wikipedia
Contributed by Anonymous
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