Details
SARAH MIRIAM PEALE (1800-1885)
Watermelon
signed and dated 'Sarah M Peale 1822.' (lower right)
oil on panel
13 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. (34.3 x 49.5 cm.)
Painted in 1822.
Provenance
The artist.
(Probably) Mary Claypoole Rockhill, cousin of the above, by descent.
Private collection, Cincinnati, Ohio, by descent.
Sotheby's, New York, 24 May 1989, lot 3, sold by the above.
Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, acquired from the above.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 2003.
Literature
R.D. Schwarz, One Hundred Fifty Years of Philadelphia Still-Life Painting: Philadelphia Collection LXII, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1997, illustrated.
Exhibited
(Possibly) Baltimore, Maryland, Peale Museum, First Annual Exhibition, 1822, no. 128.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Eleventh Annual Exhibition, 1822, no. 452 (as Still LifeWater Melon).
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum, Fruits of Summer: Nineteenth Century American Still Life, June 6-September 7, 2009.

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Lot Essay

The daughter of James Peale, Sarah Miriam Peale was born in Philadelphia in 1800 into the celebrated Peale family of artists and is considered to be the first independent female professional artist in the United States. After studying under her cousin Rembrandt Peale, Sarah and her sister Anna Claypoole Peale became the first women elected to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1824.

Sarah and her father James enjoyed a creative symbiosis with each other’s work. Sarah often helped with finishing touches on her father’s paintings, while James was inspired by, and even occasionally replicated, his daughter’s still-life compositions. Ann Sue Hirshorn writes, “Her vital paintings of melons, grapes, and peaches were closer to James’s lavish and inventive still lifes in their interpretation of the bounties of nature, which both explored in depth in the 1820s” (“Anna Claypoole, Margaretta, and Sarah Miriam Peale: Modes of Accomplishment and Fortune,” The Peale Family: Creation of Legacy, 1770-1880, New York, 1996, p. 277). Sarah was also a highly sought-after portraitist who successfully won commissions over artists such as Thomas Sully. Her work is housed in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

A related painting of the same date titled Still Life with Watermelon is in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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