James Peale (1749-1831)
James Peale (1749-1831)
James Peale (1749-1831)
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Property from the Collection of Florida International University
JAMES PEALE (1749-1831)

Still Life

Details
JAMES PEALE (1749-1831)
Still Life
signed and dated 'Painted by James Peale/on the 78th year of his life/1827' (on the reverse prior to lining)
oil on canvas
16 x 22 in. (40.6 x 55.9 cm.)
Painted in 1827.
Provenance
The artist.
Private collection, by descent.
Gift to the present owner from the above, 2011.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

As a member of the renowned Peale family of artists and regarded as a pioneer of the American still-life tradition, James Peale holds an important place in history for his realistic trompe l'oeil paintings, portraits and miniatures. Trained by his highly regarded older brother, Charles Willson Peale, James Peale began his painting career after serving in the Revolutionary War and settling in Philadelphia in 1782. Peale first exhibited still-life subjects at the Columbianum in 1795. According to Linda Crocker Simmons, "The works exhibited document the birth of the still-life tradition in America; [James and his nephew Raphaelle] were to be the principal practitioners of this art form for many decades to come." (L.B. Miller, ed., The Peale Family: Creation of a Legacy 1770-1870, Washington, D.C., 1996, p. 217) However, James did not exhibit a still life again until 1826, never fully blossoming in this segment of his career until his 70s, after Raphaelle's death. Simmons explains, "The coincidence of these dates strongly implies that James did not pursue his own interest in the medium in order not to compete with his nephew." (The Peale Family: Creation of a Legacy 1770-1870, p. 218) Indeed, as demonstrated in Still Life—painted in 1827 when he was 78—James Peale's "lush evocations of the earth's abundance won a popularity denied to Raphaelle Peale's stark, intense compositions." (E.G. Holland, S.T. Colwill, K.B. Whiting-Young, Four Generations of Commissions: The Peale Collection of the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland, 1975, p. 33)

Peale's still lifes can be separated into two basic groups, those painted up to the early 1820s and those from the years before his death such as the present work. Simmons explains, "All are characterized by common elements of lighting, grouping of objects on a table or ledge, and the use of a limited selection of objects—fruit, vegetables, branches, foliage, flowers, flatware, and containers...The lighting is similar in both early and later works, usually coming from two sources and thus illuminating one side—the left—from above and in front, and the right side with a strong glow behind the objects, setting them off against the background space...earlier works show a tight control of brushstroke, a sharpness of focus, and a palette dominated by primary colors...His depictions of natural objects seems to be based on direct observation and a perception of their interrelationships over time, not the geometry of their forms. Visual examination informs his hand in the depiction of the items before him, and his awareness of the passage of time is evident." (The Peale Family: Creation of a Legacy 1770-1870, p. 218)

The proceeds from the sale of the present work will go directly to the Florida Keys Marine Education and Research Center Endowment. The funds will benefit the college’s marine education and research programs, which focus on the residents of the Florida Keys and the important ecosystems that support the ecological and economic sustainability of the region.  

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