James Peale Portrait Painting - Captain John Ansley
See this artwork in context
View In Room
1 of 5 images

James Peale Sr.
Captain John Ansley

About 1801


Signed and dated (at lower right): J. Peale Colonial / Federal Period James Peale was the baby of the Peale family, a circumstance that defined him in life continued to circumscribe his artistic reputation long after his death. He was first apprenticed, as a thirteen-year-old, to his older brother, Charles Willson Peale, to learn to be a saddle-maker, a trade that both Peale brothers soon abandoned. In 1765, James was again apprenticed, this time to a carpenter-cabinet maker. But, in the end, he was destined to return for vocational instruction to his eldest brother. In 1769, when Charles Willson Peale returned to Maryland from England, whence he had been sent for further professional instruction by local patrons impressed with his native ability, he determined to teach both of his brothers to draw. Charles’s younger brother, St. George Peale (1745–1778), showed an aptitude for art, but he was already launched upon a promising career as a civil servant in Maryland, and did not live long enough to reconsider his choice. James, in contrast, became his brother’s studio assistant, turning his woodworking skills to the tasks involved in frame-making. Exhibiting the family talent for drawing, he went on to become a painter and a professional partner to his older, very enterprising brother. While it was a common refrain of American artists who aspired to the “higher” calling of history painting—John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, and Samuel F. B. Morse, in particular—that portraiture was what one did to earn a living but not to earn esteem or a lasting reputation, the Peales were able and amply willing to serve as portrait-chroniclers to a young America. James Peale fought with the Maryland brigade of the Continental Army during the Revolution, attaining the rank of captain before he returned to civilian life in 1779. He remained a lifelong member of the Maryland chapter of the Order of Cincinnatus. Peale married Mary Claypoole (1753–1829), sister of the little known and poorly documented Philadelphia artist James Claypoole (about 1743–about 1812), in 1782, and together they raised a family of six children. Three of their daughters, Anna Claypoole (1791–1878), Margaretta Angelica (1795–1882), and Sarah Miriam (1800–1885), became professional artists, joining the extended family of painting Peales. Peale painted this portrait of Captain John Ansley (1769–1822) in 1801, when Peale was living in Philadelphia. The sitter also lived in Philadelphia, and he was married that year to Christina Smith (1780–1818)—presumably the occasion for the commission of the present portrait. (No pendant portrait of Christina Ansley by James Peale is known.) Ansley was the son of Ozias and Charity Whitenait Ansley of Staten Island, New York. Captain Ansley was a Loyalist and a British Officer who died at sea in Indonesia. James Peale’s portrait of Ansley remained with the Ansley family for many years, and from the time of his death to about 1850 the portrait hung among the portrait collection at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.


  • Artist
    James Peale Sr. (1749 - 1831, American)
  • Creation year
    About 1801
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
    Other Art Style
  • Condition
  • Dimensions

    H 28.63 in. x W 24.38 in.

    H 72.73 cm x W 61.93 cm

  • Gallery location
    New York, NY
  • Reference number
  • Seller reference number
    APG 20609D/2

Shipping, Returns & Payment

  • Online Payment Methods
    1stdibs accepts the following payment methods
  • Item Invoice
    Generate an invoice that you can customize and print.

About the Seller

Top Seller
1stdibs seller since 2010
Typical response time: 10 hrs
Located in New York, NY
Art Dealers Association of America
You may also contact the seller by phoneCall seller through 1stdibs
More From This Seller
Table by the Window
Edmund Quincy
Canvas, Oil
Estate stamp (on back, on original stretcher): Estate of/ Edmund Quincy/ 1903-1997 A true son of Boston, Edmund Quincy devoted his artistic career to recording the spirit of the o...
Portrait of a Woman
John Bradley
Canvas, Oil
Few details about the life of the portrait painter John Bradley are known. However, some facts about his career and a solid corpus of 22 signed portraits by the artist were first est...
Woman with Flower
Frank von der Lancken
Canvas, Oil
Born in Brooklyn in 1872, von der Lancken was one of the early progenitors of the Arts and Crafts movement in America, an artist of exceptional talent, and an educator of great passi...
Portrait of an African-American Man
Stefan Hirsch
Canvas, Oil
Precisionist School This comes directly from the estate of the artist. A very beautiful and sensitive portrait. Stefan Hirsch studied law at the University of Zurich, Switz...
You May Also Like
Portrait of Maria de'Medici, later Queen of France
Scipione Pulzone
Canvas, Oil
Scipione Pulzone, called Il Gaetano The paintings of Scipione Pulzone are characterized by an elegant, pure classicism expressed through a meticulous and refined technique that make...
Head of a Classical Poet (Socrates ?)
Pier Francesco Mola
Canvas, Oil
Although born in Ticino, in a town now part of Switzerland, Mola was definitively a Roman artist, his family having moved to Rome in 1616 when his father was appointed architect to t...
Portrait of George and Edward Finch-Hatton in V...
David Martin
Canvas, Oil
Appointed Portrait Painter to the Prince of Wales in Scotland in 1785, David Martin was the leading Scottish portrait painter of his generation. The artist is best known in the Unite...
David with the Head of Goliath
Pietro Dandini
Canvas, Oil
Provenance: Private Collection, Santa Fe, NM The figure of David was, as is well known, particularly popular in the city of Florence during the Renaissance period. Numerous paint...
Madonna and Child with Angels in the Clouds
Jacopo Amigoni
Canvas, Oil
Provenance: Charles H. and Virginia Baldwin, Claremont, Colorado Springs, Colorado ca. 1907-1934; thence by descent until sold in 1949 to: Charles Blevins Davis, Claremont (renamed...
Portrait of a Lady of the Gonzaga or Sanvitale ...
Lavinia Fontana
Canvas, Oil
Provenance: Probably Sanvitale Collection; by descent to Count Giovanni Sanvitale di Fontanellatto, until ca. 1940 Private Collection, France Literature: Probably no. 64, in a...
Portrait of a Gentleman
Ippolito Scarsella (Scarsellino)
Canvas, Oil
Provenance: Suida-Manning Collection, New York Private Collection Exhibited: Venetian Paintings of the Sixteenth Century, Finch College Museum of Art, New York, October 30-Dec...
Portrait of a Young Lady
Domenico Tintoretto
Canvas, Oil
Like many family-trained artists, Domenico Tintoretto began his career assisting his renowned father, Jacopo Tintoretto, in his Venice workshop. In 1576, when Domenico was seventeen ...

Why Shop on 1stdibs?

Learn More

Only Vetted, Professional Sellers

Buyer Protection Guaranteed

Fully Insured Global Deliveries