Raphaelle Peale (1774 - 1825 )

Raphaelle Peale was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1774. Named for the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael, he was the eldest son of the artist and naturalist Charles Wilson Peale. Raphaelle Peale received his artistic training from his father. Like his uncle, James Peale, he chose to specialize in still life.(1) Raphaelle Peale also painted portraits and portrait miniatures, and produced cut-paper silhouettes. Although his father and his brother Rembrandt created a few paintings depicting New Jersey residents or battles that took place in the Garden State, a New Jersey connection has yet to be found for Raphaelle Peale. The painting below, Still-Life with Watermelon and Fruit, is owned by The Newark Museum. (JD)

(1)Ask Art web site (see link below).

Still-Life with Watermelon and Fruit

Still-Life with Watermelon and Fruit, 1822, The Collection of The Newark Museum. Purchase 1960 The Members' Fund.

Raphaelle Peale painted mostly still lifes. Of about one hundred and fifty such paintings, only fifty or so have survived. Critics of the day considered still life "the mere imitation of individual ordinary nature." One even criticized Peale for having a "petty kind of imitative monkey talent," so low was his subject matter ranked in the artistic hierarchy of the day. No one is certain why Peale preferred still life painting; it may be that he liked the control he had over the subject.(1)

The Newark Museum owns Still-Life with Watermelon and Fruit (shown here). According to the Museum, the long, gourd-shaped fruit is a balsam apple, then considered useful for healing wounds. The profusion of seeds in the balsam apple and watermelon may symbolize rejuvenation and birth.(2) (JD)

(1)Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Raphaelle Peale Still Lifes (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. for the National Gallery of Art, 1988).

(2)The Newark Museum web site (see link below).

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