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Anna Claypoole Peale

An oval painting in a delicately detailed frame with a protective resin cast over it depicting a light-skinned adult woman smiling gently. She wears a white dress and slightly frilled collar, and her curly dark hair is pulled up but also appears slightly windswept.

James Peale, Anna Claypool Peale, ca. 1805; Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fleischmann in memory of Julius Fleischmann

1791–1878

Together with her uncle Charles Willson Peale, father James Peale, and numerous siblings and cousins, Anna Claypoole Peale was part of America’s first artistic dynasty. Her sister Sarah Miriam was the other woman elected to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (founded 1805).

Peale spent much of her adult life in Philadelphia but also lived and worked in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Boston, and New York City. Trained by her father, Peale sold her first two paintings at age 14. By age 23, she had focused on portrait miniatures, a lucrative specialization.

She produced more than 200 portrait miniatures in her lifetime. Her sitters included two American presidents, an ambassador, several U.S. senators, and notable writers and scientists.

She exhibited her work regularly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In addition to her own prolific career, Peale trained her niece Mary Jane Simes, also a miniaturist.

Peale married the Reverend William Staughton in 1829 but was widowed three months later. She remarried in 1841 and enjoyed nearly a quarter of a century with General William Duncan before his death in 1864.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Anna Claypoole Peale
  • Birth

    Philadelphia, 1791
  • Death

    Philadelphia, 1878
  • Phonetic Spelling

    AN-ah KLAY-pool PEEL

Works by Anna Claypoole Peale

Nancy Aertsen

Though she also produced landscapes, still lifes, and portraits, Anna Claypoole Peale was best known for watercolor-on-ivory miniatures like Nancy Aertsen.

Peale learned the demanding medium from her father, James, who also specialized in miniature painting. Rosalba Carriera developed the watercolor-on-ivory technique during the 18th century, but it was still relatively new to 19th-century America at the time Peale was working.

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Miniature portrait in an oval frame with gold accents set in a black rectangular pendant depicts a light-skinned woman with brunette ringlets around her face. She wears an embellished red velvet dress and sits in three-quarter pose, gazing out against gray drapery.