April 1955 | Volume 6, Issue 3
Charles Willson Peale taught all his family to paint—brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, even a few promising in-laws—so that two generations of Peales busily recorded themselves and each other in portraits and miniatures. Finally, one of his descendants through his daughter Sophonisba, Charles Coleman Sellers, having sorted out all the family papers, has written a charming twovolume life of Charles Willson Peale (The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1947). It is impossible to write anything about the Peales which is not in large part an appreciation of Mr. Sellers’ biography, and we acknowledge with thanks his active assistance with this presentation.
Sometime around 1770, PeaIe acquired a copy of The Gentleman’s and Connoisseur’s Dictionary of Painters , and from this lie drew the names, famous and obscure, he gave many of his children. Later, when Natural History elbowed Art aside in Peale’s imagination, there was a series of scientists. If nomenclature means anything—and it may —Peale’s children were destined for fame. The surprising thing is that so many of them achieved it.