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Thesis Essay

833 words - 4 pages

Charles Willson Peale is well known for his portraits and other artistic works but often unmentioned is his career in the malevolent and scandalous “Furious” Whigs Party. His devotion and love of education led him to found several museums, his work in the curation of museums has granted him (as some people call him) the “Father of the American museum system.” From his paintings to politics, museum to military service, and family and fame, Charles Willson Peale was a revolutionary and skillful painter. The culmination of these factors creates a vivid and expressive history and life.
Coming from less than humble beginnings, Charles Willson Peale’s father, Charles Peale, was guilty of embezzling government money while working as a clerk in the General Post Office. Charles Peale, the father, was tried and was sentenced to capital punishment. In 1740 Charles Peale became employed as teacher and later that year he married Margaret Triggs; they went on to have five children. Charles Willson Peale, the son, was born on April 15, 1741 in Queen Anne’s County. This was a mere seven months after their wedding and seven years later Charles Peale, the father, died. Margaret struggled to manage an estate and five children. Charles Willson Peale, being the oldest, was expected to help support his family. To support his family, Peale began as an apprentice to a saddler. After becoming skilled in saddling, Peale began his own saddling business and then married Rachel Brewer. To help support his growing debt, Peale added watch repair and silversmithing to his business but in 1763 Peale started his career into one of the greatest colonial painters. After adding sign painting to his business, exchanging a saddle for painting lessons, and receiving guidance from John Singleton Copley, he began his career as an artist.
Charles Peale’s talent and skill attracted the attention of wealthy individuals and in 1776 Charles Peale traveled to London to study under the renowned Benjamin West. Peale studied under West for three years and while there he received a commission for a portrait of William Pitt1. A first painting was made but dissatisfied Peale produced a second. This second was the final copy and what became of his first became important in attempting to secure patronage from the Maryland legislature. Another crucial part of Peale’s life was his daring and outright defiant act when he refused to remove his hat at the passing of King George while in his carriage, this simple yet radical act would prove to...

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