Brief intermission

I have been away at a conference in Washington, DC.  Until I have a chance to get back out into the  garden, please enjoy this portrait with significant horticultural content that I saw while touring the National Gallery of Art during my lunch break.


Rubens Peale with a Geranium was painted by the human subject’s older brother, Rembrandt Peale, in 1801.   According to the story attached to the painting, the botanical subject was grown by Rubens Peale and was the first of its kind to bloom in North America.

“Painted in Philadelphia, the work could be described as a double portrait because 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 is…Combining firm, clear drawing, carefully modulated color, and an intense devotion to detail, twenty-three-year-old Rembrandt Peale produced an eloquent expression of his family’s philosophical orientation.”  Source


6 thoughts on “Brief intermission

  1. It is funny how realistic plants look in some of those old paintings. We expect that artists learn how to paint people realistically, but (I) would not expect them to put so much effort into plants. I mean I wonder if normal people who do not work with plants would recognize the realism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was pleased to see this one labeled correctly, though that may be because the artist knew his botany. I often see plants misidentified in museums’ descriptions of paintings (there was a Dutch painting that I saw on the same day that had a vase of what were clearly fritillarias labeled “tulips” in the description).

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      1. I can top that. In the garden of the Winchester House, the label on the California fan palms on the driveway says that the palms came from Africa. Seriously, it says, “California fan palm – Washingtonia filifera – Origin: Africa”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if the Peales named their son ‘Rembrandt’ in hopes that he would become an artist. If so, they must have been very pleased when he took up brushes and a palette and began to produce works like this! Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

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