Charles Willson Peale: Art and Selfhood in the Early Republic

David C. Ward

Published by University of California Press; First Edition edition (August 9, 2004), 2004
ISBN 10: 0520239601 / ISBN 13: 9780520239609
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Synopsis: Son of a convicted felon whose early death left the family impoverished, Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827) went on to lead a staggeringly full and successful life. A portrait painter who produced an unparalleled body of work, including the iconic The Artist in His Museum, Peale was also a revolutionary soldier, a radical activist, an impresario of moving pictures, a natural historian, an inventor, and the proprietor of one of the first modern museums. His many other interests included a lifelong preoccupation with writing; in fact, his autobiography is one of the first examples of the genre in the United States. David C. Ward's engaging book, richly textured with references to the history and culture of the time, is the first full critical biography of Peale. It links the artist's autobiography to his painting, illuminating the man, his art, and his times. Peale emerges for the first time as that particularly American phenomenon: the self-made man.

Before Peale's time, autobiographies had been written mainly as religious and confessional documents. Peale, however, produced his secular work to describe, not how God made him, but how he worked to make himself. This compelling study, drawing extensively from Peale's extraordinary autobiography, shows how Peale's life itself documents the development of American independence and individualism. Ultimately Ward addresses Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur's great question, "What then is the American, this new man?" as he sheds light on one of these new men and on the formative years in which he lived.

From the Inside Flap: "At last, Charles Willson Peale is revealed, compleat and complex: as the familiar and essential artist and scientist, to be sure, but also as the patriot, parent, publicist, and more. David Ward's astute examination of this unique polymath introduces unexpected aspects of the man and, in so doing, sheds new light on the genius of the American Enlightenment. A masterly portrait, and an interpretive tour de force."—Charles C. Eldredge, author of Tales from the Easel: American Narrative Paintings

"This is an invaluable critical study of Charles Willson Peale—clear, erudite, and imaginative. Ward shows what went wrong as well as right in Peale's lifelong attempts at self-fashioning, giving us a richer picture than ever before of this restless American figure."—Alexander Nemerov, author of The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812-1824

"One of the hallmarks of public life after the Revolution was the desire of notable Americans to fashion their own enduring reputations. This exquisite book lucidly and compellingly investigates how Charles Willson Peale expressed and controlled his image—in his ostensibly private autobiographical writing as well as in public forums such as self-portraiture and the production of spectacles and events. David C. Ward reassembles the visual and verbal conversations Peale conducted with and within himself over the course of five decades, and in doing so takes us on a remarkable journey through the labyrinth of a major artist's evolving self-consciousness during the early Republic."—Paul Staiti, Professor of Fine Arts on the Alumnae Foundation, Mount Holyoke College

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Charles Willson Peale: Art and Selfhood in ...
Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (August 9, 2004)
Publication Date: 2004
Binding: Hardcover
Edition: First edition.

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2004. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Son of a convicted felon whose early death left the family impoverished, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) went on to lead a staggeringly full and successful life. A portrait painter who produced an unparalleled body of work, including the iconic The Artist in His Museum , Peale was also a revolutionary soldier, a radical activist, an impresario of moving pictures, a natural historian, an inventor, and the proprietor of one of the first modern museums. His many other interests included a lifelong preoccupation with writing; in fact, his autobiography is one of the first examples of the genre in the United States. David C. Ward s engaging book, richly textured with references to the history and culture of the time, is the first full critical biography of Peale. It links the artist s autobiography to his painting, illuminating the man, his art, and his times. Peale emerges for the first time as that particularly American phenomenon: the self-made man. Before Peale s time, autobiographies had been written mainly as religious and confessional documents. Peale, however, produced his secular work to describe, not how God made him, but how he worked to make himself. This compelling study, drawing extensively from Peale s extraordinary autobiography, shows how Peale s life itself documents the development of American independence and individualism. Ultimately Ward addresses Hector St. John de Crevecoeur s great question, What then is the American, this new man? as he sheds light on one of these new men and on the formative years in which he lived. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780520239609

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2004. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Son of a convicted felon whose early death left the family impoverished, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) went on to lead a staggeringly full and successful life. A portrait painter who produced an unparalleled body of work, including the iconic The Artist in His Museum , Peale was also a revolutionary soldier, a radical activist, an impresario of moving pictures, a natural historian, an inventor, and the proprietor of one of the first modern museums. His many other interests included a lifelong preoccupation with writing; in fact, his autobiography is one of the first examples of the genre in the United States. David C. Ward s engaging book, richly textured with references to the history and culture of the time, is the first full critical biography of Peale. It links the artist s autobiography to his painting, illuminating the man, his art, and his times. Peale emerges for the first time as that particularly American phenomenon: the self-made man. Before Peale s time, autobiographies had been written mainly as religious and confessional documents. Peale, however, produced his secular work to describe, not how God made him, but how he worked to make himself. This compelling study, drawing extensively from Peale s extraordinary autobiography, shows how Peale s life itself documents the development of American independence and individualism. Ultimately Ward addresses Hector St. John de Crevecoeur s great question, What then is the American, this new man? as he sheds light on one of these new men and on the formative years in which he lived. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780520239609

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