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collections > permanent collection > paintings >MARY JANE PEALE
Mary Jane Peale
(American, 1827-1902)
Eliza Burd Patterson Peale, 1860
Oil on canvas, 24 1/2” x 21”
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Titelman (79.003)


Mary Jane Peale painted portraits and still lifes, continuing the family artistic tradition that had begun with her grandfather, Charles Willson Peale, in eighteenth-century Philadelphia.  The Museum’s pendant canvases of the artist’s parents, Rubens and Eliza Burd Patterson Peale, were painted in 1860, and are typical examples of Victorian American portraiture.  Dressed in sober black and wearing fixed expressions, the stern aura of the sitters is relieved only by Rubens’ luxuriant curls and the almost incongruous pink ribbon that wends its way through Eliza’s delicate lace bonnet.  The rigid poses and reduced palette of the portraits suggest the influence of photography, but it is unknown as to whether the artist used photographs in painting these likenesses.


Mary Jane Peale was born in New York City in 1827.  She was the only daughter of seven children, and grew up surrounded by relatives who painted for their livelihood.  One of these, her uncle Rembrandt Peale, was her first instructor in painting.  Later she received lessons from Thomas Sully.  Her father, Rubens, was involved in art matters as the head of Charles Willson Peale’s New York Museum.  Mary Jane lived until 1902, and so carried the Peale dynasty into the twentieth century.