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Growth and Empire
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Charles Willson Peale was one of the most prolific artists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He studied in England under Benjamin West and returned to Philadelphia where he became a leading artist and naturalist. During the era of the Revolution he painted more than a dozen heroic portraits of George Washington. He also executed works that conveyed his interests in scientific inquiry and the display of knowledge, most notably Disinterment of the Mastodon and The Artist in his Museum. Peale devoted his energies to the creation of cultural institutions in the United States; he helped found the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He also served as the progenitor of a family of painters. Two of his sons, aptly named Raphaelle and Rembrandt, gained prominence for their artistic work.

Art historians have interpreted paintings such as this one as evidence of the movement away from stern, patriarchal relationships toward loving, affectionate family connections, a cultural shift that mirrored the larger political shift that led to American independence from the King.



  

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