From Nature in the Garden
Rubens Peale, American, 1784 - 1865
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The late Robert L. McNeil, Jr., developed one of the most important collections of American art in the United States. Through gifts made during his lifetime and by bequest, McNeil presented some one thousand works of art to the Museum. Highlights include the finest collection of presidential china outside Washington, DC. Fascinated by his hometown’s history and culture, McNeil brought particular focus to the arts of Philadelphia. Prominent among his many gifts to the Museum is a major group of works by Charles Willson Peale and his family. Peale made a career of managing his family’s museums in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York, but during the last decade of his life he merged his love of gardening with his innate, although largely untutored, gift for bold artistic expression. Many of his pictures were gifts for family and friends and he dedicated this work to his son, Charles Willson Peale, the namesake of his famous grandfather.