Washington as Rembrandt Peale's "evil genius." The present manuscript is a four-page fragment from an unpublished lecture, "Washington and His Portraits," which Peale worked on throghout the 1850s. Other known drafts and fragments are held by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, Haverford College, and the Winterthur Museum Library.
Peale writes of his obsession with painting Washington, "My wife, who has always objected to these absorbing studies now entreated that I would disturb my spirit no more with Washington—saying she thought him my evil genius, and wished, with tears in her eyes, that he had never been born!" Upon completion of one of his Washington portraits (presumably the first one he executed), "Instead of going to England, I hastened with my Picture to Washington, hoping that Chief Justice Marshall, the friend & biographer also of Washington, might be satisfied with it. On seeing it he exclaimed 'It seems as if I were looking on the living Man—it is more like him than anything I have ever seen!"
The manuscript goes on to detail Peale's trip to Europe, where he exhibited the portrait in London, Paris, Florence, Rome. While in Europe, Peale continued to paint ("While in Tivoli, under an umbrella, held by a Peasant boy, to protect me from the sun and spray, I painted two views in oil"), meet other artists (Thorvaldsen in Rome, etc.), study old masters and meet prospective clients. The notes end with the artist back in the New World, "glad once more to resume the uninterrupted use of the brush."
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