Art Museum

From September 2009 to May 2010, La Salle University is celebrating the bicentennial of Charles Willson Peale’s purchase of Belfield Farm, where the famous American painter lived and worked from 1810-1821 and since 1984 the office of the University’s President. To mark the occasion, the La Salle University Art Museum is hosting the exhibition Charles Willson Peale and his Family at Belfield from March 1 – April 30, 2010, with artworks by Charles Willson Peale and the most prominent artists in his family, including his brother James, his children Rembrandt, Titian, Rubens and Raphaelle, his niece Sarah Miriam as well as his grand-daughter Mary Jane. The exhibition draws attention not only to Belfield, an important, but little-known historic site in Philadelphia, where the artist lived and worked for well over fifteen years, but also to Peale’s varied pursuits, examining the degree to which these interests affected and shaped those of his offspring.

The Museum is drawing its loans primarily from local institutions, including the Germantown Historical Society, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the American Philosophical Society, the Berman Museum at Ursinus College as well as a number of private collectors. These loans will be supplemented with works from the Museum’s own permanent collection, including Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of David Gelston, Rembrandt Peale’s Self-Portrait, James Peale’s portrait of Emily Ann Rush, and a charming still life drawing by Charles Willson’s granddaughter, Mary Jane Peale. The exhibition will highlight the enormous strength and diversity of works by Peale and his family in Philadelphia collections.

The Museum will also be hosting two well-known speakers in conjunction with the show, including Carol E. Soltis, Philadelphia Museum of Art Project Associate Curator for the Peale Collection Catalogue and Robert McCracken Peck. Dr. Soltis, Project Associate Curator for the Peale Collection Catalogue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will give the inaugural lecture on March 2nd. Soltis is a Peale expert and is currently working on a book about the Peale family of artists. Her lecture,  “ To ‘breathe a purer air’: Charles Willson Peale’s Belfield years, 1810-1821,” will focus on the style of the artwork created by the Peales c. 1810-1821.  On April 8, Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences will present “Ordering the Cosmos: Charles Wilson Peale and the Philadelphia Museum.” This lecture will give the audience a better understanding of Peale’s objectives for his museum and also will focus on Charles Willson and his sons as naturalists.

The exhibition coincides with the annual meeting of the Middle Atlantic American Studies Association (MAASA), which takes place at La Salle University from March 19-20, 2010. Among the activities planned for the conference is a talk by La Salle professor, Dr. James Butler, titled “Peale’s paradise: Landscape Gardening at Belfield.”

From January 19 to May 16, on the first floor of Connelly Library, there will be a complementary exhibition covering the 325-year history of Belfield, a national historic landmark. "Belfield: Three Centuries" will use documents, photographs, and other artifacts to highlight Belfield residents other than Peale: slaveholders, abolitionists, missionaries, members of a celibate and utopian community, refugees from revolutions, farmers, industrialists, soldiers in most of the country's wars, civic leaders, writers, many individualists, a few academics, and more than a few eccentrics. For more information please visit the Connelly Library website:
Connolly Library website

For more information about programming,
please see our Events and Activities page.

Free Programming:

Opening Lecture, "To 'breathe a purer air': Charles Willson Peale's Belfield years, 1810-1821," by Carol Soltis, Philadelphia Museum of Art Project Associate Curator for the Peale Collection Catalogue

March 2, 2010, 3:30 PM, Dan Rodden Theater; Opening reception to follow, 5-7 PM

Cosponsored and funded by the Concert and Lecture Series, Fine Arts, American Studies, and the La Salle Art Museum

"Ordering the Cosmos:Charles Wilson Peale and the Philadelphia Museum," Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

April 8, 2010, 12:30 PM, Dan Rodden Theater

This lecture is the Historic Germantown "Lunchtime Conversation" offering for April. Cosponsored and funded by the Concert and Lecture Series, Fine Arts, American Studies, the Philadelphia Center, the Celebration of Science, and the La Salle Art Museum.

These programs are part of Historic Germantown’s Germantown WORKS, a year-long initiative highlighting the hard-working spirit of Germantown’s people throughout its 300 year. The Germantown WORKS project has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.

Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741-1827)
David Gelston, 1792
oil on canvas

James Peale (American, 1749-1831)
Ann Emily Rush
oil on canvas

Rembrandt Peale (American, 1778-1860)
Self-portrait, 1838
oil on canvas

Mary Jane Peale (American, 1826-1902)
Apples, Pears, Grapes
graphite on paper