Sarah Miriam Peale

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Sarah Miriam Peale
Self portrait sarah miriam peale.jpg
Self Portrait by Sarah Miriam Peale, 1818
Born (1800-05-19)May 19, 1800
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died February 19, 1885(1885-02-19) (aged 84)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Known for still life; portraiture

Sarah Miriam Peale (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 19, 1800 – February 4, 1885, Philadelphia) was an American portrait painter, one of the notable family of artists descended from the miniaturist and still-life painter James Peale, who was her father and Mary Claypoole, who was her mother. Miriam Peale is noted as a portrait painter, mainly of politicians and military figures. Lafayette sat for her four times.


Elijah Bosley (1740-1841), by Sarah Miriam Peale, oil on canvas 73.66 x 62.23cm, circa 1825.

Sarah was James Peale's youngest daughter and was trained by her father, and uncle Charles Willson Peale. She served as a studio assistant to her father. Her first public works date from 1816 with subjects such as flowers and still-life but soon turned to portraiture, In 1818, she spent three months with Rembrandt Peale, her cousin, in Baltimore, and again in 1820 and 1822. He influenced her painting style and subject matter. For 25 years, she painted in Baltimore (1822–47) and, intermittently, in Washington, D.C.[1] She attended sessions of Congress, and painted portraits of many public figures.[2]

She was accepted to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1824 [3] along with her sister Anna Claypoole Peale,[4] the first women to achieve this distinction. Over 100 commissioned portrait paintings are known from her time in Baltimore and she was the most prolific artist in the city during that era.[5] Her subjects were wealthy Baltimore residents and politicians from Washington DC.[6]

Basket of Berries, 1860

In 1847, ill health caused her to relocate to St. Louis where she became independently successful and one of America's first professional female artists able to earn her living through her work.[3][5] Most of her work from this era is in private hands and not available for viewing.[5] Around 1860 she shifted her subjects from portraits back to still-life, but with a natural arrangement rather that the formal ones of her earlier years.[5]

She returned to her hometown in 1878, living out her last years there with her sisters Anna Claypoole (died 1879) and Margaretta Angelica (died 1879).[3][5] Like her sisters she never married.[7] She died in 1885, aged 85.[5] She is buried at the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.[8]


Charles Lavalle Jessop (Boy on a Rocking Horse), 1840. By Sarah Miriam Peale

An incomplete list of exhibited works:


  • Academician, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1824)[9]


  1. ^ Maryland Art Source, The Baltimore Art Research & Outreach Consortium, 19 June 2003. Accessed Jan 2010
  2. ^ Miller, Lillian B. (1996). The Peale family: creation of a legacy, 1770-1870. Abbeville Press. p. 240. ISBN 9780789202062. 
  3. ^ a b c Dinner Party database of notable women at the Brooklyn Museum.
  4. ^ Morgan, Ann Lee (2007). The Oxford dictionary of American art and artists. US: Oxford University Press. p. 367. ISBN 0-19-512878-8. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f King, Joan (1987). Sarah M. Peale: America's first woman artist. Branden Books. p. 296. ISBN 0-8283-1999-5. 
  6. ^ Smith, Barbara; Steinem, Gloria; Mink, Gwendolyn; Navarro, Marysa (1999). The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 438. ISBN 0-618-00182-4. 
  7. ^ Greer, Germaine (2001). The obstacle race: the fortunes of women painters and their work. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 25. ISBN 1-86064-677-8. 
  8. ^ "Sarah M. Peale". Find a Grave Website. Nov 4, 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "Anna Claypoole Peale". CLARA Database of Women in the Arts. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Archived from the original on 2010-11-26. Retrieved 2010-11-26. In 1824, she and her sister Sarah Miriam became the first women to be elected members of the Pennsylvania Academy. 


  • "Sarah Peale". Dinner Party database of notable women. Brooklyn Museum. March 20, 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  • Miller, Lillian B. The Peale Family: Creation of a Legacy 1770-1870. (Washington, D.C.: Abbeville Press), 1996. ISBN 0-7892-0206-9
  • King, Joan (1 Dec 1987). Sarah M.Peale: America's First Woman Artist. U.S.: Branden Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8283-1999-5. 
  • Wilbur H. Hunter and John Mahey: Miss Sarah Miriam Peale: 1800–1885; portraits and still life; exhibition, February 5, 1967 through March 26, 1967, The Peale Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

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