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April 23, 2010

Hidden Treasure (Who Knew?)

For history and art loving people like me, 
my city of Philadelphia holds much treasure, 
some less immediately evident than others.
Latest example, the LaSalle University Art 
Museum, where yesterday a friend and I saw 
a small but delightful exhibition of Charles 
Willson Peale And His Family At Belfield.
                     Charles Willson Peale, self-portrait
When Peale, the famous portrait painter and 
curator of his own early natural history museum 
(considered the first natural history museum 
in America and once housed in Independence Hall), 
retired from that post, he moved his family 
to the country. 
The property, just east of Germantown and now 
adjacent to the campus of LaSalle University, 
he called Belfield Farm.
            A view of Belfield by Charles Willson Peale
Today, the President of LaSalle lives in Peale's 
charming old house.
                                  Peale's house at Belfield
Mr. Peale and I are "old friends". His paintings
of his family were a great help to me during my 
REDOUTÈ research. Since Peale's children were 
also artists, as was Peale's brother James, and they 
lived at approximately the same as the Redoutè 
family, details of their dress and artists' tools 
were immensely valuable.

                           The Peale family by Charles Willson Peale

The Redoutè family from REDOUTÈ,The man Who 
Painted Flowers by Carolyn Croll
Another artist of the period to whom I am 
indebted is Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun, Marie 
Antionette's portraitist. Madame LeBrun 
painted her young brother, also an artist, 
wearing the sort of costume the Redoutè 
brothers would have worn. Again including tools 
of the trade, portfolio and a drawing instrument 
that held charcoal at one end and white chalk
at the other.
                        Young artist by Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun

         Young Pierre-Joseph Redoutè 

The artist's brother by Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun

The Redoutè brothers, Pierre-Joseph and Antoine Ferdinand in Paris
Besides this special Peale exhibit, the LaSalle 
University Museum of Art houses a small but 
interesting collection of paintings and prints 
from the 15th thru 20 centuries. 
Took me long enough!
( - link

click on images to enlarge


  1. How enlightening and informative. And charming art, as always!

  2. I love knowing the roots of your work. You chose well and did each proud!