Rubens Peale with a Geranium, 1801
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Patrons’ Permanent Fund
oil on canvas
Charles Willson Peale christened most of his seventeen children after famous artists and scientists. Rembrandt Peale did become a painter. Rubens Peale, who sat for this portrait at the age of seventeen, was a botanist. In a way, the work could be described as a double portrait in that the geranium, reputed to be the first specimen of this exotic plant ever grown in the New World, is as lovingly portrayed as the painter’s brother.