American Artist: Anna Claypoole Peale
Unknown Early American Gentleman
with Blond Hair and Blue Eyes
by Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878)
1 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed in a later (not original to the portrait) gilt metal pendant frame
It is believed that this miniature portrait was painted in 1818, when the young artist joined her uncle, Charles Wilson Peale, on a three month visit to Washington, D.C. There, the two painted portraits of many prominent citizens (her uncle having painted full-sized portraits in oil while Anna painted many of the same subjects in miniature). Amongst their more distinguished Washington clientele were President James Monroe, General Andrew Jackson and Senator Richard Mentor Johnson. Considering the prominent nature of her Washington clients, Miss Peale chose not to sign her miniatures of this period. Her later works are often, but not always, signed and dated with tiny characters -- signed variously as Anna C. Peale, Mrs. A. C. Staughton, or Mrs. Anna Duncan.
About the Artist: Born in Philadelphia in 1791, Anna Claypoole Peale was the fourth of six children born to James Peale (1749-1831) and Mary Chambers Claypoole (1753-1829). Her father was an accomplished early American miniaturist; and her uncle, Charles Wilson Peale (1741-1827) was, likewise, of considerable fame as both a miniaturist and full-sized portrait painter. Anna received her earliest training from her father, whom it is said went to great effort to teach her his craft. It is believed that she also received instruction at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1805 by her Uncle Charles Wilson Peale and sculptor William Rush. By 1817, she had a thriving business in Philadelphia, where she maintained a studio with her younger sister Sarah Miriam Peale (1800-1885), who painted still lifes and full-sized portraits in oil. She also maintained a studio in Baltimore, at Peale's Baltimore Museum and Gallery of Fine Arts, established in 1814 by her cousin Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), and made occasional working trips to Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. From 1814-1843, she exhibited works annually at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She also exhibited at the Boston Athenæum, the Artists' Fund Society and the various Peale museums. In 1829, at the age of 38, Anna married Rev. William Staughton (1770-1829), who sadly died a mere three months after their marriage. Twelve years later, in 1841, she married Gen. William Duncan (1772-1864), commissioned as a general during the War of 1812, but of greater fame for having in 1824 founded the Jefferson Medical College (known today as the Sidney Kimmel Medical College) and in 1827 founded the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, both located in Philadelphia. Within two years after her marriage to Gen. Duncan, Anna retired from painting professionally, but she left a large body of work, many fine examples of which have survived to this day and are represented in the best of public museums and private collections. She is known to have works in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts (New York City), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rosenbach Museum (Philadelphia), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Connecticut), the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland), the Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati, Ohio), the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Indianapolis, Ohio), and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.). Listed by Benezit, Barratt & Zabar (pages 130-132), Blättel (pages 700, 701), Bolton (pages 120, 121), Bolton & Wehle (page 95), Fielding (page 720), Johnson (pages 159-161), and Schidlof (page 617).
Other portraits in the Tormey-Holder Collection by Anna Claypoole Peale
(click photos for larger views and additional information):
Elegantly Dressed Young Lady of the Jacksonian Era,
Wearing a Black Dress with a Large, Organza Collar,
a Collar Button and Earrings Made of Black Onyx,
and a Tortoise Shell Hair Comb