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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 929

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This is the grave of Harriet Cany Peale.

Born in 1799 or 1800 in Philadelphia, Harriet Cany grew up fairly well off. She married and then her husband died. So she started studying painting with Rembrandt Peale. He was a famous painter and she became pretty successful with her work. In 1840, she married her widower teacher. That year, she exhibited her paintings for the first time at the Artists Fund Society in the city. In 1848, she had her first big exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. That was the first of her five exhibits at the Academy.

Peale also worked with her husband in various ways, including making copies of his paintings in order to sell them. But her main contribution is through her own work. Largely, we should see her as a minor but worthy painter of the early 19th century. She painted some quality Hudson River School work. Her 1848 painting Her Mistress’s Clothes has become famous today due to its subject matter, when a rich white lady forces her personal servant to dress in her clothes and jewelry and then they both look in the mirror, considered an unusual examination of racial power for the time.

Peale died in 1869. She was between 68 and 70 years old.

Let’s look at some of Peale’s work:

Her Mistress’s Clothes, 1848
Kaaterskill Clove, 1858
Reading the Letter
Braddock’s Field

Harriet Cany Peale is buried in Saint Mary’s Catholic Churchyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If you would like this series to visit other women artists of the 19th century, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Cecilia Beaux is in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania and Elizabeth Shippen Green is in Sewanee, Tennessee. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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