Anna Claypoole Peale

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Anna Claypoole Peale
Anna claypoole peale-james peale.JPG
Anna Claypoole Peale,
by James Peale, c. 1805
Born (1791-03-06)March 6, 1791
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died December 25, 1878(1878-12-25) (aged 87)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Known for portrait miniature
Spouse(s) William Staughton, 1829;
William Duncan 1841-1864.

Anna Claypoole Peale (March 6, 1791, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – December 25, 1878, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American painter who specialized in portrait miniatures on ivory and still lifes.

Early life[edit]

Anna Claypoole Peale was born on March 6, 1791, to James Peale (1749-1831) and Mary Chambers Claypoole Peale (1753-1829). Anna was the fourth of six children, and the third daughter. Her siblings were: Jane R. (1785-1834), Maria (1787-1866), James JR (1789-1876), Margaretta (1795-1882), and Sarah Miriam (Sally) (1800-1885). Anna was the only child to carry the Claypoole name, and used it throughout her career. From a young age Anna watched her father, a miniature portrait artist, painting in his studio to learn the artform, "hours and hours at a time watching James progress. He took great pains in teaching her, pointing out the peculiar touches that produced his best efforts by giving a charm to the expression" [1]

Under her father’s guidance, Anna began studying portraiture, and was able to capture great likenesses of her sitters.[2] He was likely encouraged to train his daughter by his brother Charles Willson Peale who, with William Rush, co-founded the first American art academy, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). In 1811 at the age of 20 Anna participated in the first exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which was also her first major exhibition. There, she exhibited a still life in oils. In 1824, Anna and her sister Sarah Miriam were the first women elected as academicians to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.[3]


Anna’s success in portraiture followed generations of portrait artists in her family. Charles Willson Peale, her uncle, was an important figure in the introduction of miniature painting in the American colonies. Her father also contributed to the evolution of the practice. Her sisters, Sarah Miriam, Maria, and Margaretta Peale were also accomplished artists: Sarah Miriam as a portrait painter, and Maria and Margaretta as still life painters. Both Peale brothers believed in pushing their children toward artistic careers. James Peale and Charles Willson Peale both had influential standing in the lives of their children, nieces and nephews. Anna married William Staughton on August 27, 1829, who died shortly after in December 1829, in Washington, D.C.[4] After his passing, she returned to Philadelphia to continue her studio portrait practice.[5] Eleven years later, in 1841, she married General William Duncan, and retired from painting shortly after.[1]

Though she married twice, Anna had no children. She did however have four nieces and nephews; Mary Jane Simes (1807-1872), James G. Peale (1823-1891), Washington Peale (1825-1868) and Mary V. Peale (1828-1867).


The United States experienced an increase in wealth during the 19th century, a change that broadened the clientele for miniatures.[2] In addition to these beneficial conditions, Anna’s training under her father was advantageous to her because the miniature craft was traditionally slowly acquired and in a master/apprentice capacity.

Some of Anna’s notable sitters included President James Monroe and President Andrew Jackson , senators including Colonel Richard Johnson, an ambassador, scientists, and theologians. Numerous men and women from Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond Virginia, including many businessmen and their wives, also became sitters.

Early career[edit]

Anna was noted as someone who applied herself to her work with diligence and ambition.3 She developed a degree of precision in her work which enabled her to contribute to supporting her parents James and Mary. As early as 1805, at age 14, she sold her first paintings. The paintings she sold were two oil paint reproductions of Vernet, earning her $30, which was a considerable amount at the time.

Along with Anna’s dedication, her uncle Charles Willson Peale assisted in her early career. He promoted her potential for commercial success, and sought commissions for her. Charles once said, “Her merit in miniature painting brings her into high estimation, and so many Ladies and Gentleman desire to sit for her that she frequently is obliged to raise her prices.”[6] Anna’s brother also assisted her in her early success by accompanying her on her trip to Boston.

Subject matter and style[edit]

Anna was known to have painted at least one hundred forty miniatures, still lifes, landscapes and portraits in oils.[3]

Anna Claypoole Peale’s style was influenced by her father, who taught her how to skillfully blend pigments to control color density with watercolors on ivory. However, she adjusted this technique to develop her own style. Another familial influence on Anna work most likely came from her cousin, Titian Ramsay Peale (1780-1798). When she was a small child, Titian was researching and writing about techniques for transferring images onto ivory. After examination, it was found that Anna used similar techniques on her own paintings to help adhere watercolor to ivory.[1]

Praise for her miniature work began as early as 1812, though she didn’t exhibit them until 1814. Mainly focusing on her adept abilities with color and capturing a sitter’s likeness, there are many complementary assessments of her works: From 1817-1818 Anna experienced a great expansion of her career. This period is marked by a work now owned by PAFA titled Mme. Lallemand. This commissioned portrait of Harriet Girard Lallemand in 1818 was a stepping stone for Anna into a successful career as a portrait artist. As is common in her style, this work is mainly respected for its mastery of color; “heightened by the transparent blue shadows of reflected color under the chin that give definition to the features”.[2] In 1818 Charles Willson Peale was looking at Anna’s work, and wrote to his son Rembrandt Peale, “I saw one [a miniature] she had done of a gentleman in which the colouring was of superior excellence”.[2]

A rose in the sitter's hair became a motif in Anna's work during the 1820s.[2]

In the summer of 1818, Anna had to take a break because of severe inflammation of her eyes.[2] However, she returned to painting in full force the following November.


In November 1818 Anna accompanied her uncle Charles Willson Peale and his wife Hannah Peale on a painting expedition to Washington, D.C. The mission of this trip was to promote Anna's “potential for commercial success” , to seek commissions and to produce portraits to send back to Philadelphia to be put on exhibition at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. During the span of mid November through February 1819, Anna and her uncle both painted portraits of President James Monroe during his presidency, in the White House. The locations of these paintings are currently unknown. During their time in Washington, Anna and Charles also had the opportunity to paint the portrait of Major General Andrew Jackson, whom later became the seventh president of the United States. Anna’s portrait of Jackson was the more dynamic of the two.

Anna's portrait of Andrew Jackson is now housed at Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

While attending President Monroe’s New Year’s levee, Anna continued to expand her clientele for commissions. Anna accompanied Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson, Kentucky senator and war hero, to the levee. The Colonel later sat for one of her portraits. After the leave, Anna boarded with Reverend Obadiah Brown and his wife, and produced portrait miniatures of them.[2]

Late career[edit]

Between 1819, and 1829 Anna produced numerous miniatures. In a letter Anna wrote to Titian Ramsay Peale II on April 7, 1819, she described having an enormous amount of work to do. Anna also explained that she had been given tickets by Thomas Sully to attend 15 anatomical lectures by Mr. Calhoun with her sister Sarah Miriam. This series of anatomical studies assisted her already successful portrait work in the decade to follow.

In 1820 Anna painted a portrait of her cousin Rembrandt Peale’s daughter, Rosalba Peale. The miniature of Rosalba was an experiment to break away from oval miniatures and work with a three quarter, half length pose with props of tables and drapery. This increase in size makes the familial controversy that surrounded the creation of this work even more curious.

Anna’s portrait of Rosalba was intended to be a gift to a married couple, the Robinsons.[2] However, after hearing this, Charles Willson Peale wrote to his family and questioned the motives of his granddaughter’s portrait being given to a married man. Because this portrait does not have the same degree of delicate color work as others Anna was producing at the time, it is suspected that Charles’ letter caused her to leave the painting unfinished. The work was also never given to the Robinsons, but stayed in Anna’s studio. Regardless of its possibly unfinished state, this miniature remained an example of the artist's superb handling of color.

In 1822, Anna completed a portrait of Rubens Peale which is regarded as one of the high points of her oeuvre. She completed another portrait of an extended member of the Peale clan in 1824, Abraham Sellers (Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia). Throughout her later career, Anna continued to exhibit artwork separate from her miniature portrait business. In 1824 Anna exhibited a copy of Jean-Baptiste Isabeys Miniature Portrait of Napoleon after Isabey. Then in 1829 she exhibited Beatrice Cenci after Guido Reni also at PAFA. Later, she again showed Beatrice Cenci after Guido Reni in 1831 at the Boston Athenaeum.

After a long and successful career, Anna Claypoole Peale was the last miniature painter in an unbroken line of artists in the Peale family. Her Career ended circa 1842, coinciding with the decline of the portrait miniature in the United States.[2]


On Christmas Day at age 87 Anna Claypoole Peale died in ladelphia and was buried in Woodlands Cemetery.

Exhibits and awards[edit]

  • 1811 Anna Peale made her first appearance at PAFA, exhibiting a still life in oils.
  • 1814, Anna Peale exhibited her first group of three miniatures at PAFA’s spring exhibition.
  • 1818 Anna Peale had critical recognition of her work shown at the PAFA. Afterwards, Charles Willson Peale wrote, "Anna Peale is of the first reputation in her line and has an abundance of sitters”".[2]
  • In Baltimore on September 30, 1822 was the first advertisement of “FIRST ANNUAL EXHIBITION OF Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings, &c.” , an exhibit that Anna’s work was included in, as written by Rubens Peale.[6]
  • 1823 Anna Peale exhibited two portraits at the Peale Museum in Baltimore. These two portraits were reproductions of Jean-Baptiste Duchesne’s paintings His Lady and Napoleon After Duchesne.
  • 1824 Anna Peale was honored as an Academician, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • 1824, Anna Peale showed another reproduction at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, of Jean-Baptiste Isabey’s Miniature Portrait of Napoleon after Isabey
  • 1829, Anna Peale exhibited her painting Beatrice Cenci after Guido Reni at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and again in 1831 at The Boston Athenaeum


  1. ^ a b c Sellers, Charles (1967). The Peale Family Three Generations of American Artists. The Detroit institute of the Arts & Wayne State University Press. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hirshorn, Anne (1989). Legacy of Ivory: Anna Claypoole Peale’s Portrait Miniatures, Volume 64. Detroit Institute of Arts. 
  3. ^ a b Schwarz, Robert (1987). A Gallery Collects Peales. Philadelphia: Frank S Schwarz & Son. 
  4. ^ Concise Dictionary of Women Artists. Taylor & Francis. 2001. ISBN 9781579583354. 
  5. ^ Miller, Lillian (1996). The Peale family: Creation of a Legacy, 1770-1870. Abbeville Press. ISBN 9780789202062. 
  6. ^ a b Miller, Lillian (1983). The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family: Volume 4 Charles Willson Peale: His Last Years 1821-1827. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 

External links[edit]