Friday 6 March 2015

A Life in Miniature: Anna Claypoole Peale

Anna Claypoole Peale (Philadelphia, America, 6th March 1791 - Philadelphia, America, 25th December 1878)

Anna Claypoole Peale, by James Peale, c. 1805
By James Peale, 1805 
Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Anna Claypoole Peale, one of a tiny number of 19th century women who were professional painters. She is not as famous as her male counterparts yet in her day, this celebrated lady was in high demand in north America thanks to her unerring skill for miniature work.

Anna was the daughter of artist, James Peale, and his wife, Mary Chambers Claypoole Peale. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Anna made her name in the world of miniature painting since this was the field in which her father, James Peale, had enjoyed his most resounding success and it was he who taught the young lady and her sisters the skills for which Anna would become famous. She could claim another artist in the family too, as niece of Charles Willson Peale, who enjoyed great success for his portraits.

Anna’s first sales came at the age of fourteen and by the time she travelled to Washington in 1818, she was accepting commissions. Whilst in Washington, she produced miniatures of a number of politicians and found herself in high demand, becoming an academician of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1824. In fact, she and her sister, Sarah, were the first female academicians  of that illustrious institution!

Five years later Anna married but was, sadly, widowed within just three months. She returned to painting and continued her career until her second marriage in 1841, when she permanently retired from the world of professional art. Although she continued to paint as a hobby, she was forced to abandon miniature work by failing eyesight and for the rest of her days, worked at an easel.


caroline Wrarfield said...

A great Philadelphia lady! Interesting post.

Catherine Curzon said...

Thank you for stopping by!