Rembrandt Peale was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to the influential artist Charles Wilson Peale. Together with his siblings -with names like Rubens, Raphaelle and Titian- he was named after a major European artist for being born at the height of his father’s painterly career. Born into such an influential family, Peale’s own artistic journey started early on, painting his first self-portrait at thirteen. His first mentor was undoubtedly his father Charles, of whose portraits he studied alongside other early American and European works. At seventeen, Peale was working alongside his father for the opportunity to paint George Washington. In line with father’s concept of a standard museum portrait, Peale sought to depict the most truthful and accurate account of the individuals who sat for him.
After establishing a short lived museum in Baltimore around 1796, Peale returned home, seeking work in and around Philadelphia. With the guidance of painter Gilbert Stuart, Peale further developed and mastered techniques that would become central to his work. In a trip made to England in 1802 to present his family’s archaeological discovery of a mastodon skeleton, Peale found the opportunity to study shortly with Benjamin West at the Royal Academy, where he also met with Sir Thomas Lawrence. Peale was greatly received upon his return and held a truly successful portrait career. He would made numerous trips back to Europe though to deeply study master painting and incorporate their methods in his oeuvre. He was particularly inspired by French neoclassicism.
Over the course of his near 70-year career, Peale would create upwards of a thousand paintings, from idealistic portraits of the nation's politicians to depictions of intellectual leaders in France for his family collections. In addition, he wrote extensively on his opinions his role as an artist via articles, brochures, and the like.