Peale Museum?

Recently, a viewer sent me a link to view a list of silhouettes being auctioned-off. I found three silhouettes that interested me. The first was described as, “A lovely Charles Wilson Peale hollow-cut silhouette of a woman. Black ink hair and back of dress. Embossed PEALE underneat the image.” The second was, “A wonderful Charles Wilson Peale hollow-cut silhouette of a gentleman. Black ink hair and ruffled shirt. Embossed stamp PEALE beneath the image.” The third was, Another lovely Charles Wilson Peale silhouette. Portrait of a gentleman. Hollow-cut with black ink for the hair. Embossed stamp PEALE underneath the bust. On the back there is a piece of paper taped to the frame that says "Peale Museum" - 19th century.”

C.W.Peale spelled his middle name funky, Willson. The auction site spells it “Wilson.” No point will be taken off for that, however. Since the auction page is copyrighted, I will mention that the images came from “iGavel.”

If you were to look at the left photograph embossing (genuine Peale), you will see that it is within an oval punch, and the letters are well-formed. On the other hand, the purported Peales are individual punches (for more on Peale stamps, see my article somewhere on this or another silhouettes page). Although the pictures are not very clear, I am sure you can see the differences in how the letters “LE” of PEALE are formed. On the left photo (genuine Peale), the right legs of those two letters go up straight, while those of the letters on the top right picture go out at a 45 degree angle. The leg of “L” almost touches or even touches the letter “E.” Also, note the last “E” of the bottom right photo. The right leg of it is very long and curves inward. All the letters of the two right photos are crudely formed.

The busts of the purported Peales, the two men, are not Peale-like. This is not to say that these types of busts were never cut there. It is just I do not remember ever seeing such lines. The lady has Peale-like attributes with its small notch at the bustline and the neck being off-centered in terms of the bust. However, the face is not Peale-like. This is a subjective part. Sometimes, the face tells a lot. From the photos, they all appear to be silhouettes from the early 1800s. I like the lady a lot. If not for the “addition,” that would have been a keeper.

I will let the good readers decide on the fate of these silhouettes. If a reader believe them to be from the Peale Museum, I would like to hear.

6/22/13.....I cannot believe how I was so~~~~~ careful in 2007. All three silhouettes are no-quesion 20th century cuttings, even the lady I liked.