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.
Marks and Labels
Mary Ridgely Palmer [Mrs. Henry Clay Palmer, 1852-1932], Baltimore. Luke Vincent Lockwood [1872-1951] and his wife, Alice Gardner Burnell Lockwood [1874/1875-1954], Greenwich, Connecticut, by 1926; (their sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 13-15 May 1954, no. 455). Morris Schapiro [1882/1883-1969], Baltimore; gift 1966 to NGA.
- 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.
- Paintings by the Peale Family, Cincinnati Art Museum, 1954, no. 19.
- J. Hall Pleasants, A Memorial Exhibition, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1958-1959, 12.
- American Painters of the South, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 1960, no. 21.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1965.
- The Peale Family: Three Generations of American Artists, Detroit Institute of Arts; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, 1967, no. 37.
- Loan for display with permanent collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995-1996.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sellers, Charles Coleman. Portraits and Miniatures by Charles Willson Peale. Philadelphia, 1952: 119-120, no. 453, fig. 184.
- Paintings by the Peale Family. Exh. cat. Cincinnati Art Museum, 1954: no. 19.
- J. Hall Pleasants, A Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat. Baltimore Museum of Art, 1958-1959: 12.
- American Painters of the South. Exh. cat. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 1960: no. 21.
- "Loan Collection, 1965," Bulletin of The Metropolitan Museum of Art 23 (April 1965): 280.
- The Peale Family: Three Generations of American Artists. Exh. cat. Detroit Institute of Arts; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, 1967: no. 37.
- Sellers, Charles Coleman. Charles Willson Peale. New York, 1969: 231, fig. 51.
- American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 86, repro.
- Andrus, Lisa Fellows. Measure and Design in American Painting, 1760-1860. New York and London, 1977: 118-121, fig. 42.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 205, repro.
- 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.
- Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 10, 13, no. 9, color repro.
- Williams 1981, color repro. 52-3, 71.
- Hallam, John S. "Charles Willson Peale and Hogarth's Line of Beauty." Antiques 122 (November 1982): 1075-1076, 1078, fig. 7.
- 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.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 375, no. 525, color repro.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 255, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 217, repro.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Miller, Lillian B. "The Peale Legacy: The Art of an American Family, 1770-1870." American Art Review 8, no. 6 (1996): 140, repro. 142.
- Wilson, Janet. The Ingenious Mr. Peale: Painter, Patriot and Man of Science. New York, 1996: repro.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 292, no. 237, color repro.
Work of Art
Work of Art
- Event Name
- March 1–June 1
- Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
- March 5, 2012 at 2:00
March 7, 2012 at 4:00
- East Building, Auditorium
- Name of docent
- 60 minutes
- Registration for this event begins on April 1, 2012 at noon.
- Download the program notes (100k)
- Italian Collection