Charles Willson Peale: An Artist of American History October 11 2013

Charles Willson Peale supported the American Revolution, fought in the Revolutionary Army, and served in the Pennsylvania state assembly. His role as a committed revolutionary is not what earned him a high ranking place in American history, though.

Peale learned saddle making in his youth and attempted to open his own shop in adulthood. When that failed, several rich benefactors pooled resources to send him to England to learn painting. When he returned, he quickly made a name for himself in portraiture. His political views as a Revolutionary and a Freemason enabled him to come in contact with major Revolutionary figures and paint portraits of them. 

He also opened a revolutionary museum where he displayed plants and animals in an effort to educate Americans on local biology. Though the museum eventually closed, its impact was significant.

His portraits provided succeeding generations with a glimpse into the personalities of famous figures in the founding of the United States. His museum removed some of the mystery from nature and provided future museum curators with a framework for natural museums. Peale was an artist who used his craft to elucidate the history of the American revolution.

Commonwealth Book Publishers of Virginia, book editor and publisher, encourages the use of art as an interpretive tool for historical events.