Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Salon: A Favorite Painting

REUBENS PEALE WITH A GERANIUM by his brother, the American painter, Rembrandt Peale. (1778 - 1860) Talk about the pressure of a famous name!

I first saw this painting years ago on the cover of an Amercian Artist magazine. I had a visceral reaction: I held my breath. I've said before how some paintings occasionally do that to me. Well, this one did. I loved it immediately.

I knew nothing about the artist except that he, as well as his brother, had most colorful names. I read a little about him, then cut the painting from the magazine and pinned it on one of my bulletin boards. Over the years when I moved, I lost track of the painting. Recently I came across it once again in one of my books. This time I have a computer so, abracadabra I looked up Rembrandt Peale and found out more about him. Today's post is my effort not to misplace his splendid painting again.

Peale painted about 600 works in his long lifetime, many of them portraits of the famous of his time, i.e. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson.

But my favorites remain the gentle portrait of his brother, a gardening enthusiast, and his own self-portrait, below.

A disturbing and entirely personal aside: according to Wikipedia, Peale's mother gave birth to 17 children - only six of whom survived to adulthood. 17 children. She died when Rembrandt Peale was 8 years old. (Not, I think, much of a surprise.) It's a wonder to me that feminisim and the idea that, perhaps, women should have some control over their own bodies, took as long as it did to take root. It's a wonder to me that more women didn't, don't, more often, go berserk. At least in history. (No wonder Thelma and Louise dived off that freakin' cliff.)

Rembrandt Peale married, and his wife went on to give birth to 9 children. Maybe she ran out of stamina.


  1. Oh,great post .I really like it ^^!

  2. SciReg: Thank you, and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

  3. Both paintings have a very personal feel to them. I like them. Thank you for exposing me to another new, too me, artist.

  4. What interesting commentary. I naturally gravitate to the women's issues. Yes--control of women's bodies, an issue highly debated, and in danger, in Congress right now.

    A friend whose mother grew up in Ireland, was put in a convent with her sister, as their mother simply had no stamina to deal with her 12th and 13th children. She just gave out.

    My mother told me not to think of the end of Thelma and Louise that way, to think of it more metaphorically than a finality. And, as we know, our mothers were right!

  5. Ryan: Then my work here is done. :) So glad you're enjoying these posts. I love thinking about all the paintings out there just waiting for me to shine my own little bit of light on them. Eventually, I think we'll have a really good file here of some wonderful work.

  6. Kathy: Didn't mean to go heavy on the issue thing. But I was truly appalled by that bit of Peale's history. Women 'gave out' a lot I would imagine, in those days.

    At any rate: Kathy, I think you'd like reading Robin Bates' blog post on Thelma and Louise. I'll link to it in a new post in just a few minutes.

    As always, thanks for stopping by. :)

  7. lovely painting! and interesting family makes me glad i live in modern times.

  8. Brioche: Me too! Yes, I love this painting. Peale's father was a painter as well and he was taught at home to paint, etc. Peale had 9 children, some of who had impressive names, among them: Michel Angelo Peale. I kid you not.

  9. My grandmother had 14 children who, along with my g'mother lived very long lives. The funny thing (or not so funny depending on your point of view) is that my grandfather left her and the kids after #14 was grown and long married...drum roll please...for another woman with 1 grown child. They married. I think my grandmother was relieved. She died happy. True story!


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