Wednesday, July 1, 2015

James Peale

Sir Peter Parker's Attack Against Fort Moultrie
oil on canvas
50.8 × 76.2 cm
other detail unknown

James Peale (1749-1831) was an American painter, best known for his miniature and still life paintings, and a younger brother of noted painter Charles Willson Peale (James served as his assistant and learned how to paint).

He was born in Chestertown, Maryland. His father died when he was an infant, and the family moved to Annapolis. In 1762 he began to serve apprenticeships there, first in a saddlery and later in a cabinetmaking shop. In 1776, he accepted a commission in the Continental Army as an ensign in William Smallwood's regiment. Within three months he was promoted to captain, and during the next three years fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Princeton, and Monmouth. He resigned his army commission in 1779, and moved to Philadelphia.

In 1782 he married a sister of portrait painter, after which he established his own household and artistic career. At the outset of his career he painted portraits and still-life, and by the mid-1780s had established his reputation. Throughout the 1790s and early 19th century Peale devoted himself to miniature painting. Around 1810, as his eyesight began to weaken, he gave up painting miniatures to turn to large portraits and still-life subjects that were greatly admired and widely exhibited in Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore. Three of his six children became accomplished painters.