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Hammond-Harwood House acquires Margaretta Angelica Peale painting, the museum’s first by a woman in the family

The Hammond-Harwood House museum has acquired its first painting by a woman from the Peale family.

The museum on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis has acquired the still life painting “Peaches and a Pear on a Plate” by American artist Margaretta Angelica Peale (1795-1882), niece of Charles Willson Peale, one of early America’s most celebrated artists. The painting is from 1864 and was signed by Margaretta. Margaretta painted this piece during the American Civil War in Philadelphia.

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Margaretta Angelica was the daughter of artist James Peale, Charles Willson Peale’s brother. The Peale brothers lived in Annapolis until 1776 when they resettled in Philadelphia. They returned often to Annapolis for commissions.

“It is a still life painting and it is interesting since most women had domestic obligations, so she could start and stop painting when needed,” said museum curator Rachel Lovett. “The painting can show the tense times that Philadelphia was going through at that time. It is a beautiful piece and you can see the skills the family had.”

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The Peale brothers encouraged artistic expression in their households. Rembrandt Peale and Charles Peale Polk were notable examples of successful painters.

The Schwartz Gallery in Philadelphia found a private collector that sold the piece to the museum. The museum declined to disclose the amount it paid.

The Hammond-Harwood House museum has acquired its first painting by a woman from the Peale family. Margaretta Angelica Peale - "Peaches and Pears on a Plate."
The Hammond-Harwood House museum has acquired its first painting by a woman from the Peale family. Margaretta Angelica Peale - "Peaches and Pears on a Plate." (Courtesy Photo)

This acquisition is the only work by a woman member of the Peale family on display in a public collection in the city. The museum has one of the largest Peale family art collections in Maryland with 19. The earliest painting from the family is 1770 and the Margaretta painting is the latest.

“It is important for us to tell the Peale family story since they started here and The Peale women were some of the first professional women artists in America,” Lovett said.

Lovett said this artwork helps to tell a more inclusive narrative since it wasn’t common for women to be painting at this time. Most women in this time painted for enjoyment, but Margaretta actually sold her artwork under her name.

Lovett said the family believed in women’s education and were adamant about teaching them how to paint. The family all painted realistic art and used a certain glaze over the canvas, she said.

The Peale family has always been fascinating to visitors of the museum because they established American identity, Lovett said. She believes this new piece brings a new narrative that is unheard of in Annapolis. Acquiring more women paintings from the Peales is something Lovett is looking into.

The museum suggests visitors make a reservation but walk-ins are allowed. https://hammondharwoodhouse.org/.

The Hammond-Harwood House museum has acquired its first painting by a woman from the Peale family. Margaretta Angelica Peale - "Peaches and Pears on a Plate."
The Hammond-Harwood House museum has acquired its first painting by a woman from the Peale family. Margaretta Angelica Peale - "Peaches and Pears on a Plate." (Courtesy Photo)
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