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Portrait of Dr. Meer
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Portrait of Dr. Meer

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Rembrandt was the son of the well-known Neoclassical portraitist, Charles Willson Peale, who used his influence to launch his children's careers as artists. In 1795, Charles used his connections to get 17-year-old Rembrandt a sitting with the growing American legend George Washington. Rembrandt would later paint many portraits of Washington, as well as of Thomas Jefferson. The younger Peale enjoyed a long, prosperous career, churning out likenesses of the most distinguished members of Colonial America. Due to heavy demand, he often relied on studio assistants. Consequently, the mature work can seem slightly formulaic. However, this early work, probably done at about the same time that the precocious young artist was introduced to Washington, has a refreshing liveliness. The sitter, whose profession and identity remain somewhat unclear, is captured as though directly engaging us. He points to a skull, which is typically used in still-life painting as a symbol of human mortality. Scholars have not yet determined if the prominent skull refers to the sitter's professional status (a medical doctor?) or if it has some other, as yet undeciphered symbolical role.
Date Description Narrative
10/27/2008Examinationexamined for condition
  • Rembrandt Peale's Portrait of John Meer: A New Addition to the American Art Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2009.
  • 19th Century Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin. 2010-2011.
  • La peinture Americaine: 1830-1900 (The American Painting). Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne 8. 2014.
Provenance Owned by Mr. John Meer. Acquired by Mr. Riter Fitzgerald, Philadelphia; purchased by Harriet Deacon, Baltimore, May 1899; inherited by Mrs. Mary Caroline Hood Mohr (later Mrs. John H. Lewin, Jr.); inherited by Dr. David Painter Mohr; inherited by Jennifer H. Moon, Ph.D., Tuscon, Arizona, 2004; given to Walters Art Museum, 2007. [1] Mrs. William Painter, and great-great granddaughter of John Meer
Credit Gift of Jennifer H. Moon, in fond memory of David Painter Mohr, 2007

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ca. 1795
oil on canvas
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 29 x W: 24 1/2 in. (73.66 x 62.23 cm); Framed H: 35 1/8 x W: 30 3/4 x D: 3 1/4 in. (89.22 x 78.11 x 8.26 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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