Overview

Charles Willson Peale was a major figure in American science and art during the revolutionary period. His faith in the educational value of art led him to establish a painting academy in Philadelphia as early as 1795. When that venture failed, Peale combined his scientific and artistic interests in a museum.

In 1788, the Lamings had asked him to do this double portrait. Peale's diary records his activity from 18 September, when he "sketched out the design" after dinner, to 5 October, when he added the final touches. Besides working on the picture, Peale studied natural history at the family's estate outside Baltimore.

Peale cleverly devised a leaning posture for the husband so that his bulk would not overshadow his petite wife. Moreover, this unusual, reclining attitude binds the couple closer together, telling of their love.

The setting, "view of part of Baltimore Town," is appropriate for a wealthy Maryland merchant. The spyglass indicates Laming's interest in shippage by sea, and the green parrot perched behind his leg may recall his birth in the West Indies. Mrs. Laming's fruit and flowers, although traditional emblems of innocence and fertility, could also refer to her own gardening. The detailed attention paid to the bird, plants, scenery, and telescope attests to Peale's encyclopedic knowledge.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Mary Ridgely Palmer [Mrs. Henry Clay Palmer, 1852-1932], Baltimore.[1] Luke Vincent Lockwood [1872-1951] and his wife, Alice Gardner Burnell Lockwood [1874/1875-1954], Greenwich, Connecticut, by 1926;[2] (their sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 13-15 May 1954, no. 455).[3] Morris Schapiro [1882/1883-1969], Baltimore;[4] gift 1966 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1929
Loan Exibition of Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century Furniture & Glass ... Portraits by Stuart, Peale and Others for the Benefit of The National Council of Girl Scouts, Inc., American Art Galleries, N.Y., 1929, no. 834.
1954
Paintings by the Peale Family, Cincinnati Art Museum, 1954, no. 19.
1958
J. Hall Pleasants, A Memorial Exhibition, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1958-1959, 12.
1960
American Painters of the South, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 1960, no. 21.
1965
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1965.
1967
The Peale Family: Three Generations of American Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, 1967, no. 37.
1995
Loan for display with permanent collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995-1996.
1996
The Peale Family: Creation of a Legacy 1770-1870, Philadelphia Museum of Art; M. H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1996-1997, no. 157, pl. 18.
2007
Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation, National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Museum; The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, 2007-2008, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
2009
American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life 1765-1915, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2009-2010, unnumbered catalogue, fig. 12.

Bibliography

1929
Loan Exhibition of 18th and Early 19th Century Furniture & Glass ... Portraits by Stuart, Peale and ... for the Benefit of The National Council of Girl Scouts, Inc., Exh. cat. American Art Galleries, N.Y., 1929, no. 834.
1952
Sellers, Charles Coleman. Portraits and Miniatures by Charles Willson Peale. Philadelphia, 1952: 119-120, no. 453, fig. 184.
1954
Paintings by the Peale Family. Exh. cat. Cincinnati Art Museum, 1954: no. 19.
1958
J. Hall Pleasants, A Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat. Baltimore Museum of Art, 1958-1959: 12.
1960
American Painters of the South. Exh. cat. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 1960: no. 21.
1965
"Loan Collection, 1965," Bulletin of The Metropolitan Museum of Art 23 (April 1965): 280.
1967
The Peale Family: Three Generations of American Artists. Exh. cat. Detroit Institute of Arts; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, 1967: no. 37.
1969
Sellers, Charles Coleman. Charles Willson Peale. New York, 1969: 231, fig. 51.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 86, repro.
1977
Andrus, Lisa Fellows. Measure and Design in American Painting, 1760-1860. New York and London, 1977: 118-121, fig. 42.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 205, repro.
1980
Miller, Lillian B., ed. The Collected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family. Microfiche ed. Millwood, N.Y. Fiche IIB/10; IIC, 164-165.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 10, 13, no. 9, color repro.
1981
Williams 1981, color repro. 52-3, 71.
1982
Hallam, John S. "Charles Willson Peale and Hogarth's Line of Beauty." Antiques 122 (November 1982): 1075-1076, 1078, fig. 7.
1983
Miller, Lillian B., et al., eds. The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family. 5 vols. New Haven and London, 1983-2000: 1(1983):529, 533-543, 636; 5(2000):fig. 3.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 375, no. 525, color repro.
1987
Lovell, Margaretta M. "Reading Eighteenth-Century American Family Portraits: Social Images and Self-Images." Winterthur Portfolio 22, no. 4 (Winter 1987): 247, repro. 251, fig. 10.
1988
Cikovsky, Nicolai, Jr. "Democratic Illusions." In Raphaelle Peale Still Lifes. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Washington, D.C., 1988: 68, no. 15.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 64, no. 9, color repro.
1991
Prown, Jules David. "Charles Willson Peale in London." In New Perspectives on Charles Willson Peale. Lillian B. Miller and David C. Ward, eds. Pittsburgh, 1991: 44.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 255, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 217, repro.
1995
Miles, Ellen G. American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 120-128, color repro. 123.
1995
Miles, Ellen G., and Leslie Reinhardt. "Research on the Collections: Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741-1827), Benjamin and Eleanor Ridgely Laming, 1788." Circle Bulletin no. 13 (Spring 1995): 22-25, repro.
1996
Miles, Ellen G., and Leslie Reinhardt. "'Art conceal'd': Peale's Double Portrait of Benjamin and Eleanor Ridgely Laming." Art Bulletin 78, no. 1 (March 1996): 57-74, repro.
1996
Miller, Lillian B. "The Peale Legacy: The Art of an American Family, 1770-1870." American Art Review 8, no. 6 (1996): 140, repro. 142.
1996
Wilson, Janet. The Ingenious Mr. Peale: Painter, Patriot and Man of Science. New York, 1996: repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 292, no. 237, color repro.

Technical Summary

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