Biography of Charles Willson Peale: The True Renaissance Man Essay example

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The self taught, revered scientists, extensive naturalist and all around jack of all trades Charles Willson Peale was thought of like a true Renaissance man. All of his artistic talent and knowledge he passed on to his many sons. Being friends with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, Peale promoted artistic development and public art. In his artwork, he captured the realness and vivacity of life. The similarities between Peale and his American contemporaries can be seen when they are compared to him. The well known Neo-classicist artist, Charles Peale through all of his trades was a masterful craftsman and artist.

Fully skilled in many fields Charles Peale was known as an American Leonardo. Living from 1741-1827
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Painted from 1770-1773 The Peale Family consisted of nine of the Peale family members and their “faithful nurse” (Strickland 72). Willson himself is in the back left holding a palette and painting on an easel that says “Concordia Animae,” which means, harmony of souls. The unique composition of The Peale Family shows “the essential unity of the group” (Strickland 72). Connected by the hand and shoulder contact, the people in this painting seem to overlap, showing the concept of E Pluribus Unum. Popular in the 1800’s to the early 1900’s the style of conversation was used in this painting (Strickland 72). The clearness, crispness and realism represented in The Peale Family, demonstrated the classical nature of Peale’s work. Although some of his other works contain a more heroic and classical theme, they still convey the same styles. Being the first to paint a portrait of George Washington, and also painting portraits of 40 different officers from Valley Forge, Peale was known to have painted very “outstanding American leaders” (Encyclopedia of World Biography). As he painted in his classical style, Willson Peale established a name for himself that would be remembered for centuries.

The American contemporaries of Peale and the things they achieved were in some ways similar and rivaled to his own. One of Peale’s friends and the president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was an architect who built the University of
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