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(Brother Jonathan No. 3) Charles Willson Peale (7.22.2012)

(Brother Jonathan No. 3) Charles Willson Peale (7.22.2012)

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Published by John U. Rees
Number 3 in the series introduces Charles Willson Peale (15 April 1741–22 February 1827), artist, inventor, naturalist, and entrepreneur, who rendered more likenesses of American participants of the War for Independence than any other single painter. As soldier and politician Peale took an active role in Revolutionary events, an experience that shaped his life and work.
Charles Willson Peale was born on April 15th 1741 in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, the son of Charles and Margret Peale. At the age of 13 he was apprenticed to a saddlemaker in Annapolis, Maryland. After completing that apprenticeship, Peale commenced making his living repairing and cleaning watches, at the same time honing his skills as a painter. In 1767 he went to England to study under the artist Benjamin West, a fellow American. (At the time West was in the process of completing his work “General Johnson Saving a Wounded French Officer from the Tomahawk of a North American Indian, “ and had received commissions from George III for a number of portraits of the Royal Family. He founded the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768.). Peale returned to American in the spring of 1769, and began to paint full time.
Number 3 in the series introduces Charles Willson Peale (15 April 1741–22 February 1827), artist, inventor, naturalist, and entrepreneur, who rendered more likenesses of American participants of the War for Independence than any other single painter. As soldier and politician Peale took an active role in Revolutionary events, an experience that shaped his life and work.
Charles Willson Peale was born on April 15th 1741 in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, the son of Charles and Margret Peale. At the age of 13 he was apprenticed to a saddlemaker in Annapolis, Maryland. After completing that apprenticeship, Peale commenced making his living repairing and cleaning watches, at the same time honing his skills as a painter. In 1767 he went to England to study under the artist Benjamin West, a fellow American. (At the time West was in the process of completing his work “General Johnson Saving a Wounded French Officer from the Tomahawk of a North American Indian, “ and had received commissions from George III for a number of portraits of the Royal Family. He founded the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768.). Peale returned to American in the spring of 1769, and began to paint full time.

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Published by: John U. Rees on Oct 11, 2013
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1
Brother Jonathan’s Images, No. 3.
 Captain Charles W. Peale, 4
th
Battalion Philadelphia City Associators Artist: Charles Willson PealeYear: Circa 1777-78Collection: American Philosophical Society
The first two installments of Greg Urwin’s Continental
Images appeared two years
ago. Now renamed Brother Jonathan’s Images, and transferred to new caretakers,
number 3 in the series introduces Charles Willson Peale (15April 1741
22February 1827), artist,inventor, naturalist, and entrepreneur, who
 
rendered morelikenesses of American participants of the War for Independence than any othersingle painter. As soldier and politician Peale took an active role in Revolutionaryevents, an experience that shaped his life and work.Charles Willson Peale was born
on April 15th 1741 in Queen Anne’s County,
Maryland, the son of Charles and Margret Peale. At the age of 13 he was apprenticedto a saddlemaker in Annapolis, Maryland. After completing that apprenticeship,Peale commenced making his living repairing and cleaning watches, at the sametime honing his skills as a painter. In 1767 he went to England to study under theartist Benjamin West, a fellow American. (At the time West was in the process of 
completing his work “
General Johnson Saving a Wounded French Officer from theTomahawk of a North American Indian,
“ and had received commissions from
George III for a number of portraits of the Royal Family. He founded the RoyalAcademy of Arts in 1768.). Peale returned to American in the spring of 1769, andbegan to paint full time.
Many of Peale’s family, associates, and patrons were Whigs and his pre
-war writingssuggest that he was dedicated to the Revolutionary cause well before the beginningof hostilities. By 1774, aided by his connections and political affiliation, the artist received a large amount of military-related work. One of the earliest came from JohnDixon, printer of the
Virginia Gazette
, who commissioned Peale to paint the flag of the Independent Company of Williamsburg. While living for a short time inBaltimore, he was then tasked with painting Mordecai Gist's Baltimore Independent  Company banner. A description of that flag in the Virginia Gazette vividly reflects
the artist’s growing militancy:
LIBERTY trampling upon TYRANNY, and putting off SLAVERY who isapproaching with hasty strides, and taking hold of DEATH, which isrepresented by a SKELETON on the right hand side. Behind the figure of SLAVERY isa SEA. By the figure of LIBERTY is a column to denote STABILITY, and an extent of country. The motto, REPRESENTATION or NO TAXATION.
In the fall of 1775, at 34 years of age, Peale himself began to engage in the"exercising of war." He began by outfitting himself with a sword for "four guineas"and other martial goods. Finally in June 1776, aiming to heighten his prospects,Peale and his family set off for Philadelphia where they would make their home - off and on - for the rest of his life.
 
2
Charles Willson Peale arrived in Philadelphia at an obviously momentous time, andbegan two endeavors that would take up much of his energy for the next two years:military service and miniature portraiture. To his family's consternation, afteroutfitting himself with a uniform, arms, and accoutrements, Peale enrolled on 9August 1776 as a private soldier in the 4th Company, 4th Battalion, Philadelphia City
Associators (Pennsylvania’s version of militia, at a time when the Quaker colony’s
government did not formally sanction military units.In early 1777 Pennsylvaniapassed a militia law, making service mandatory in order to spread the burden of 
that state’s military defense.)
. Around this time he began his prolific production of military-related miniature portraits. These likenesses were perfect wartimekeepsakes for separated family members. For the artist, miniatures were well-suitedto the dual life of a soldier-painter, as he could (and did) carry the tools of bothtrades into the field and not only marched and fought, but executed commissions forsmall portraits as well.As Peale's renown for portraiture grew, so, too, did his reputation as a soldier. In thedemocratic world of the Philadelphia Associators, he was elected by popular vote tothe rank of 2d lieutenant of his company on 5 October 1776 then to 1st lieutenant on 19 November.With t 
he retreat of Gen. George Washington’s forces across New Jersey following the
dual debacles of Forts Washington and Lee, the Philadelphia Associators were calledinto service. For the first time, Charles Willson Peale embarked on active service.After crossing into New Jersey he learned that instead of advancing against theenemy, the Associators would return to Pennsylvania. On December 7th, in Trenton
awaiting his turn to cross, Peale observed Washington’s ragged troops coming in.“Suddenly a man stagger
ed out of the line and came toward me. He had lost all hisclothes. He was in an old dirty blanket-jacket, his beard long, and his face full of 
sores … which so disfigured him that he was not known by me on first sight. Only
when he spoke did I recognize m
y brother James.” Twenty
-seven year old James
Peale entered Col. William Smallwood’s Maryland Battalion as an ensign in January
1776, and took part in the battles for Manhattan. The unit lost heavily at LongIsland, and was further reduced by illness. By the time they reached Trenton
Smallwood’s men numbered only around one hundred.Amongst Charles Peale’s limited campaign luggage was his "miniature apparatis."
Besides noting in his journal the vagaries of camp life and he also told of findingtime to begin "a miniature of Capt. Bernie," and a day later "one of Capt. Boyd." Fivedays later, following a description of battalion drill the soldier-artist mentionedhaving completed the Bernie miniature and that he was owed "twenty-eight dollarsfor it."Just after the new year Peale took part in his first action, at the Second Battle of Trenton. While at Trenton his captain turned over command of the company toLieutenant Peale, a position he would hold for almost two years. The night of January 2d Washing
ton’s army withdrew and the following day fought at Princeton.
 
3
Peale noted of that affair, he "carryed (his) Platoon to the Top of the Hill & fired tho'very unwillingly for I thought the Enemy rather too far out. and then retreatedLoading we Returned to the Charge & fired a 2d time & Retreated as before the 3dtime coming up the Enemy began to Retreat ..."
2d Battalion, Philadelphia Associators(Painting by Don Troiani, www.historicalimagebank.com )
Charles Peale’s journal entries hint at the apparel and equipment he used
during the1776-1777 winter campaign. On 18 March 1776 Peale mentioned leaving a "Huntgshirt" at 
a friend’s
house. July 22d he "purchased 1 1/2 yd Brown Cloth for a Coat.pd. Mr. Riddle for a pr of white Briches...(and) for Cartouch Box ..."; July 23d, "pd. forbayonet & Steel Ramrod"; July 25th "Belt for Bayonet... Scabbard"; July 26th, "Strapto my gun"; October 9th, "pd for white Cloath Linnin for wastCoat & breches. Left 

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