Portrait of Elizabeth DePeyster Peale (1765 - 1804)
Charles Willson Peale, American, 1741 - 1827
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Charles Willson Peale painted many portraits of his family, and the Museum owns two of his most celebrated images of his children, The Staircase Group, depicting Titian Ramsay and Raphaelle Peale, and Rachel Weeping, showing his first wife with their deceased daughter, Margaret. Peale's portrait of his second wife, Elizabeth DePeyster (1765-1804), the daughter of a wealthy New York City merchant whom he married in June 1791, corresponds with his verbal description of her as having a "sedate countenance" and "serious motherly appearance" despite her twenty-five years. She clearly needed both these characteristics as she endeavored to care for Charles' six surviving children along with the six children they would have together prior to her death in 1804. Elizabeth proudly wears a miniature portrait of her husband, Charles, painted by her brother-in-law, James Peale. Family lore states the locket was double-sided and the reverse held a portrait of Betsy's father painted by Charles. The image demonstrates the Peale family's different portrait enterprises, and the intimate and sentimental character of miniature portraits.