Rembrandt Peale was an American portrait painter. He was born in 1778, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he was the son of the distinguished museum proprietor and artist Charles Wilson Peale. Rembrandt's artistic abilities arose at a young age, as he executed his painting at thirteen years old, a self-portrait. Portrait painting would be Rembrandt's flagship as an artist.
Rembrandt would work on most of the major eastern cities in the United States, such as New York, Boston, Baltimore, Charleston, and Washington. Although very skilled, his father's acquaintances and patronage surely made it easier for Rembrandt to thrive as a young artist.
At the beginning of his career, Rembrandt studied mostly artworks from contemporary painters, such as Robert Edge Pine and Gilbert Stuart, as well as many European artists that could be found among private collections.
In 1795, his father made it possible that Rembrandt could make a live painting of George Washington himself. This would be the first of several portraits to come of the US' first president; Rembrandt Peale was only seventeen years old at the time. These portraits would become rather popular amongst art collectors, much so Rembrandt's late livelihood became almost entirely from reproductions of said portraits.
From 1796 to 1798, Peale managed the first of his family's museums outside his hometown. He then worked two years in Maryland, as an itinerant artist. In 1801, curiously, Rembrandt would help his father digging prehistoric mammal bones in Newburgh, NY. In the following year, he and his brother Rubens took the assembled skeleton from these very remains for an exhibition in England. In 1813, he established the Peale Museum in Baltimore, which he managed until 1822.
Peale benefitted from extended periods spent in important European capitals, which helped him expand his artistic views. His first time in Europe was in London, where he briefly studied at the Royal Academy. The artist spent roughly three years in France, where he produced several portraits of distinguished French artists, writers, and scientists, mainly for his father's portrait collection. From 1828 to 1830, Peale stayed in Italy, where he copied several Old Master paintings for wealthy American collectors. These trips undoubtedly influenced Peale's artwork, especially French Neoclassicism and the works of Jacques-Louis David.
In 1824, Peale finished what might be the pinnacle of his hard work on several George Washington portraits. Patriae Pater, which depicts George Washington looking through an oval window, is highly celebrated and is regarded as one of the best depictions of the president. This painting was not only a result of studying and development of his portraits, as well as an in-depth study of portraits by other artists, such as Gilbert Stuart and John Trumbull.
Rembrandt Peale died in June 1860, in Philadelphia.