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tv   Second Bank Portrait Gallery  CSPAN  July 4, 2017 3:20pm-4:11pm EDT

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that caused it. barnett, it's in your book, it's in somebody's book, i think it's yours, you could look at it more as a citywide workers revolt. the draft was the immediate cause. but grievances had been building up in this class for several years. located between the new museum of the american revolution and pinsd hall in philadelphia, the portrait gallery of the second bank of the united states houses more than 150 paintings of notable 18th and 19th century leaders, military officers, explorers, and scientists. up next, on american history tv's american artifacts, we
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visit the gallery to learn about a selection of works by charles wilson peele. >> i'm carrie diethorn, the chief curator of the independence historical park. i oversee a large collection of historical artifacts, we at the second bank of the united states. the second bank of the united states which was finished in 1824 was literally the fort knox of its day. the building today has been restored or the exterior, when you come to see it you'll see how it looked when it was brand new in 1824. inside what we have is a fine arts exhibit. we include portraits from the 18th and early 19th century to tell the story of what it was like to live in 18th century america. the world that those people knew
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and the world that the revolution built. the portrait collection at independence national hisser to cal park is a very old one. the bulk of our collection, 94 pictures was painted by charles wilson peal, a philadelphia artist who had his own museum here in the city and the museum was so po popular in the middle of the 19th century. the subjects that the city chosy signers of the declaration and the constitution, because those two documents had been written at independence hall. in the middle of the 20th century, the national park service restored independence hall to how it looked at the time of the revolution, when the paintings weren't there. so the national park service decided to move the paintings to the second bank of the united states to create a modern art exhibit. in a way you can say these paintings have never been apart. were created by charles wilson peal for his museum and were
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purchased by the city of philadelphia for their museum at independence hall and then became the responsibility of the national park service, individually they're wonderful, but collectively they're so awe-inspiring. here at the second bank of the united states we have so many paintings by the artist charles wilson peal, that we wanted to recreate for our visitors, an understanding or sense of what charles wilson peal painted these portraits for this is a graphic depiction of the museum. from a painting that charles wilson peal did himself. but the background is so interesting. because here's charles wilson peal's museum when it was on the second floor of the independence hall. you can see the exhibit cases with all the animals and birds and above you could see the portraits. because charles wilson peal could put in stuffed birds and
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animals, but he couldn't put in stuffed people. he painted the portraits as stand-ins. the best part of the dmiks are the visitors of the museum this is a man talking to a boy who is reading a book and i especially love this woman who is hands were raised by amazement at what she's seen and what she's sign is behind charles wilson peal, a fully preserved skeleton of a mammoth. a fossil mammoth. and charles wilson peal's museum. he was constantly trying to bring in visitors with something new. can you see depiction of ceiling fixtures, they were gas fixtures, powered by gas, the first gas fixtures in philadelphia. and here's charles wilson peal himself. the best part of his museum and the portraits in it is charles
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wilson peal wanted to present his portraits in the museum as those people really looked. it's kind of a warts and all approach. a great example is this portrait over here? done by rembrandt. in is thomas sumpter. a military commander during thor american revolution. and a person for whom fort summit certificate named. when charles wilson peal taught i had son rembrandt to paint, the idea was to make the painting as precise as possible. because at the time, charles wilson peal and his contemporaries, believed that a person's cam is reflected on his face. that meant all of your features, so in the case of thomas sumpter when we look at the painting we say, what's wrong with his eyes. they look a little odd.
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well the answer is, thomas sumpter really did have a lazy eye. and charles wilson peal's son, rembrandt, included that in the portrait, not to make fun of thomas sumpter, but to be as accurate as possible about thomas sumpter really looked. so when visitors to people's museum, they would know that was thomas sumpter. i think it says sbg charles wilson peal and his son rembrandt and their commitment to the style of painting of the day, which is neo-classix, all about detail. our exhibit in the second bank, the particular gallery that's representative of peal's museum, doesn't just contain the portraits that he painted, we've averaged those portraits like charles wilson peal did. they're double and triple stacked in order to accommodate them. at the end of peal's life there were almost 300 portraits in his museum. we only have a bird of them in
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independence park today but we wanted keep to get the wow factor that the visitors to dharls wilson peele's originally got. when you look at portraitings. you notice yeah they sort of all look really similar, until you start to study them one by one. the similarity is reflective of what charles wilson people was trying to do with his portraits. wanted in the people in the paintens to appear much like their real selves as possible. and he wanted the portraits to be emblematic to is in the case of charles wilson peal, he painted his museum portraits, head and shoulders only, oftentimes frayed in an oval. he wanted his portraits to look like the coins of ancient roman empires. with the bust of the emperor on
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them. he wants to reflect the idea that these are powerful people, but yet they were still off the people. they're not that kind of em pore porors, the kind of real commitment to ruling a nation. the museum tore trats, in a very there's also a practical reason. it's very quick, easy to paint, head and shoulders only. you don't have all the details. charles wilson peal in his autobiography claimed he could paint one of these portraits in three hours. we have to take these with a boulder of salt. because it is in his autobiography. but he was very productive. because he had his brother and sons working with him. almost had an assembly line of prk production. today all the paintings have been conserved and presented,
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most of our paintings no longer have their original charles wilson peal frames, we have replicas. the frames were delicate and they were kind of the first thing to go. these paintings have been through a lot in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century before they came to the modern museum. we wanted to present them as accurately as possible. we've gotten close with these replica frames. this is the first painting that charles wilson peal did for his museum collection this is baron vonn estuyben. he steeteaches the american arm when they wintered at valley forge, how to march in formation, how to conduct their military maneuvers, basically how to be a real army, as opposed to baunch of farmers and merchant who is have guns. it's a great painting, because
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von stubeyan is wearing all his medals. he didn't speak english so when he was drilling the troops at valley forge he would speak in his native language, prawn, aus and one of his aides would translate. i can't imagine how frustrating that must have been for him. but charles wilson peal did the painting because von stubeyan was so famous, and this one of the charles wilson peal's first museum. which was in his own home. to see the portrait of the famous prussian general who made an army out of farmers. behind me you might talk about this painting. who is timothy matlack. timothy matlack is the person who wrote out the declaration of independence during the month of july, 1776 so that everybody else could sign it. on august 2nd, 1776. and timothy matlack in this
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painting is in his late 80s, and charles wilson peal is not much younger and the two had been friends for more than 60 years. when you look at this painting you're really looking at this wonderful old man with his beautiful white beard and it's a real character study. and it is the last painting that charles wilson peal did for his museum before he, charles wilson peal, died two years later. peal was born in maryland and moved to philadelphia for the revolution. he wanted to find a clientele for his business services. he was a businessman and looked for customers. he moved to philadelphia and started painting portraits. he was very active during the american revolution, painting portraits of soldiers going off to war. but right now, i'd like to talk a little bit about this painting that peal did of himself in the middle of the 1790s.
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peal was incredibly productive as an artist. it's been estimated that he painted more than 600 pictures in his lifetime. he actually did seven self-portraits this is one. and what's amazing to me about the paint something how peal portrays hisself. in other words he's not trying to pretty himself up. his hair is messy, his clothes are rumpled, what he wants to show in this paint something not an elegant person, but a craftsman, an artisan, someone who takes their work seriously. that's why in the portrait the subject's eyes are really the most prominent aspect of the painting. and peal really looks right out at you, the audience. it's very sort of hypnotizing i think his gaze is so intense. the other purpose for doing the self-portrait. when do you a painting of yourself, you have only yourself to blame if it doesn't turn out
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right. you can't blame it on the client, who is moving too much or talking, because you, yourself the artist, are the subject. peal used the opportunity for this self-portrait to kind of stretch himself a little bit technically as an artist. you might notice for example, the rather unusual angle of his torso and one can attribute that to him turning back and forth from the painting to a mirror, to the painting and he captures that sense of motion in the picture. he also is experimenting with light. you'll notice how one-half of his face is in shadow and the other is brightly lit, that's hard to do technically, the light source for this paint something even outside the picture frame. and peal is experimenting with this. not because he's going to show this portrait to a lot of people. but because he himself is practicing his technique as an artist. and it makes a really wonderful character study. there's nothing in the background. just the subject, we're focusing on the subject. and what we're focusing on about
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the subject is his eyes. weerl see a lot of other pictures of charles wilson peal painted by his contemporaries as we move along this is mary white morris, a woman who lived in philadelphia, from the colonial period into the early 19th century and this was a private commission. in other words mary white morris paid charles wilson peal to paint this picture of her in the early 1780s, mary white morris is shown in an incredibly extravagant and opulent costume. she's wearing a turban on her head with feathers and jewels and she has an a fur-trimmed cape. and a sash with golden fringe and she really looks like somebody who could just buy the world. and that was the whole point of this picture. charles wilson peal was hired by
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mary white morris and her husband to paint this painting and a canyompanion portrait of husband. he was the financier of the american revolution. he was so wealthy, robert morris, during the colonial period that he could finance the american revolution with his own private money and if he hadn't done that, it's highly unlikely that the american revolution could have gotten off on a good start. and mary white morris, ostensibly in this portrait is portrayed in a way that's meant to impress you. that's meant to make you see how wealthy she is. how important her standing is. you might think that that means that's all that's important about mary white morris, is she had lots of money and could dress really fancy. in effect what charles wilson peal has done with this portrait is he's included much more information about mare were white morris than you might think. that additional information i
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think helps us know more about her, the real person. i'll point out a few of those as pegts, they are called attributes in a painting, you'll see here in the upper left corner, very vaguely, the ghost of an outline, it's a sculpture. and the sculpture is of the muse of music. you can see he's holding a trumpet. the reason this is in the painting is because charles wilson peal wants to inform us that mary white morris isn't just pretty to look at. she's talented. she appreciates music. he's also wants us to know that she's not dumb. and if you look on this side of the painting you'll see what looks like a landscape, behind her with these portrait busts on pedestals, this is not a real place, this is not where robert morris or mary white morris lived. this is imaginary, it's symbolic, it's what charles wilson peal wants to you think about mary white morris.
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the reason there are these busts, here's george washington write here and these other figures are busts of important political figures in america. what is that kind of thing doing in an 18th century woman's portrait? what it's doing there is it's telling us that mary white morris has read all of these authors, understands their political theory of herrera, and espouses it. so we've got music, and we've got intellect. and that's really what he's trying to say that behind this beautiful facade. there's a woman of substance. and when we learn about mary white morris' biography, it's incredible what she achieved. of course she's a woman, an aristocratic woman, but a woman never the less, living in an controlled entirely by men. and yet mary white morris becomes her husband's inherited business partner after her husband winds up in prison because he can't pay his debts.
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and in the 18th century when were you in debt you couldn't just declare chapter 11 or bankruptcy, you had to pay up or go to jail. robert morris couldn't pay up, her husband, and so they put him in jail. how are you going to pay your debts when you're in jail? kind of a strange dichotomy what happened is mary white morris took over the business, made the money and got her husband out of prison. at the time she's carrying for their nine children. this is not somebody who sits on a soft cushion all day. this is somebody who gets down to it, works and really understands business, the arts, and philosophy. so she's really a woman for the new republic. she's the kind of woman that will then teach her children to understand the same things and be the best citizens in the new america. but we're always brought back to the idea that she lives in a world in which women are not independently, do not independently have rights,
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there's an aspect to the painting that i think really says that well. if you look at her wrist here and here, you can see she's wearing bracelets and the bracelets actually hold little tiny portraits. this one is her husband and this is her father. very pretty, nice if you can get it. but you know what it always reminds me of? and that's handcuffs. so i'm sure that's not the handcuff part isn't what charles wilson peal intended, but it's something we can interpret today when we think about the role of women in the 18th century. well let's look next at another painting by charles wilson peal, this one is one from his museum, i had mentioned earlier that charles wilson peal had a museum with portraits of his contemporaries who he regarded as the heroes of the american revolution. this is john paul jones, the naval commander. he's the one who supposedly says in battle "i have not yet begun to fight."
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and this is such a great painting, because i think it really reflects john paul jones' personality. jones, who was scottish by birth, came to america and he went to see at age 12. and he was always ambitious, always looking to get a leg up. to improve his station and he gets a military command and then throughout the american revolution, he's really in the popular imagination. almost as a pirate. because he captures ships, he sort of for the glory of america and yet he's reckless and daring. i think that the portrait that charles wilson peal does of him which is done in the late, early 1780s near the end of the american revolution, shows off that, i'm not to be messed with. i'm -- kind of a little bit outside the law. and john paul jones' most famous career success was in 1779, when he has this protracted naval
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battle, commanding a ship known as the richard, against british forces and it's almost a debacle. because the ships are burned and sinking and the americans are losing and john paul jones runs on the deck of the ship supposedly and marshals his men and they go on to win the battle and capture the british ship. it's that kind of fame that john paul jones krafd. he was an ambitious person -- craved. not everybody else is enamored of somebody who is super ambitio ambitious. so john paul jones was constantly getting fired by the continental congress and didn't get the commands of ships he wanted. he ends by taking his baseball bat and glove and leaving after the american revolution. he signs up to fight with catherine the great's navy in russia and he hopes he's going to make a lot of money that doesn't work out. at the end of his life he moves to paris and dies in obscurity. but his fame as this daring
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naval commander for the american revolution lives on beyond his lifetime. and eventually his body which was buried in paris is brought back to the united states early in the 20th century and he's now buried at the naval academy in annapolis, maryland this picture of john paul jones, done about ten years before he died i think is just great. he's looking off into the distance, i always think he's thinking to himself, what can i conquer next? i think charles wilson peal reap reelly captured the spirit of this particular subject. he's the only one in his, only portrait in charles wilson peal's museum with the subject is wearing a hat. and i think that the whole aspect of his uniform, for example right here he's wearing a medal of the society of cincinnati, formed after the revolution of george washington's officers and his whole, the whole uniform, the whole presentation of john paul jones is very important. both to the artist and to the subject.
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>> let's talk a little bit more about some of john paul jones' contemporaries, who don't get portrayed in such a dramatic way. here's a good one right here this is charles thompson. charles thompson is best known as the secretary of the continental congress. the very first time that the declaration of independence was printed it didn't include all the names of the people who signed the declaration, it only contained the names of the president of congress at that time, john hancock, and the secretary, charles thompson. thompson, who was irish, was a dedicated public servant. he worked through the continental congress throughout its history. but when the new, when the revolution was over and the new government was placed in america, under what we call the articles of confederation, thompson who was a little bit of a radical during the american revolution and made some ene
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enemies, doesn't get a position in the new government after the american revolution, he's sort of forced out. and he really resented that. and he lived here in the philadelphia area so he was kind of a hanger-on without ever having an official position. he devoted all of his injuries to writing a translation of the bible it must have been so hard to have been at the center of so many important events during the american revolution and then be cast aside. i think he probably never forgot that. here he in the portrait that charles wilson peal does of thompson. peal and thompson were friends for a very long time. thompson looks benign, he also looks a little wistful. even though this picture is done while thompson is still in the political inner circle, perhaps there's a little bit of a foreshadowing to his ultimate kind of outsider-ness.
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i think peal enjoyed people who were outsiders, because peal was one and his friends, charles thompson, they were friends for decades, is definitely somebody that charles wilgsen peal, who is also multitalented with many interests and many pursuits, i think they kind of related to one another very closely. this is a great painting of the artist's really good friend. but also someone who was on the center stage during the american revolution. someone else who was on center stage is this portrait here of the marquis de lafayette. i always think he looks like a teenager dressed up in his father's army uniform. lafayette was so young when he came to america in 1777 offering his services to george washington. lafayette of course is french, and he had gone to military school there. and when he heard about the american revolution, he immediately embraced the ideals of the americans, i must serve, he paid his own way to come to
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america and he offered his services to george washingtonth didn't speak any english and he winds up at valley forge. and that's really sort of where he learns english, from the other officers, washington and lafayette had a very mutually affectionate and respectful friendship. lafayette was young enough to be washington's son. so throughout the american revolution, lafayette is very close to washington at his side, on his command staff. but he's not just a hanger-on. lafayette was a very successful military strategist and his skills were very important for example at the battle of yorktown, what was the culminating battle in the american revolution. lafayette led a large number of forces and was very able as a military commander. after the american revolution, lafayette goes back to paris, he certificate vifs the french revolution eerks though he's an aristocrat, he's not someone that the french revolutionary forces thinks has to go to the
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guillotine and be killed. in 1824 he decides to go back to the united states and visit all his old buddies from the american revolutionary era, it's the eve of the 50th anniversary of the american revolution. lafayette comes to america, a very old man, but nevertheless, someone that americans remember as the youth who served george washington and who helped to win the american revolution. think peal's portrait, done at the time of the american revolution, really sort of captures lafayette as this -- aspiring and dedicated person who's dreaming of a world in which the ideals of the american revolution and the ideals of liberty and fraternity and equality that would become the slogan of the french revolution are getting their start. ten years earlier in the united states. well speaking of george
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washington i thought we might take a look at a portrait of his wife, martha washington. and here she is. martha is painted when she was first lady of the united states. in the mid 1790s, think she looks very formidable here, maybe it's that hat, which is not to be messed with. but i love the detail in this picture that peal did with her, you can see her little tiny gold earring and she's so stately and so proud and martha washington is the first lady had an even tougher job than her husband, george washington the first president. pause because remember, nobody knew what a first lady was, nobody knew what a president was. so martha had to make it up on her own. what was really important to martha washington throughout her husband's career, she had been at his side. she had been on the battlefield
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with him taking care of him. she had been back at mount vernon, the home taking care of the estate. she was intimately involved in his career. kind of like mary morris. she's not the commander, she's not the president. however her contributions to her husband's job were very, very significant. and in the case of her duties as first lady, what martha washington was really good at was creating this sense of stately elegance. that was the esteem for the president and the sort of awe that people held the president in. and she created a system she called salons, where twice a week people would go to the president's house for a party and the idea was that everyone would come there, pay their respects to the president and also do some business on the side. in a way she's using her social skills to promote her husband's political career. martha washington and george
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washington married, it was her second marriage. and all the money was hers. that when he married her, he made a really good catch as they say. her first husband had husband she, martha, was accustomed to considerable comfort and wealth in virginia where she lived with her first husband, and so she kind of transfers that skill that she's already amassed as the wife of a wealthy plantation owner when she marries george washington who is still finding his way economically when he becomes the commander in the american revolution. and so when we look at someone like martha washington, and we sort of see the frilliness of her outfit, i think that balances really well with the real focused, kind of piercing gaze that she gives us. again, this is somebody not to be messed with. she was short in stature, but i think she was might ney
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personality and charles wilson peal's portrait of her for his museum is a wonderful study. just look at that chin. she's not somebody who will acquiesce to anyone, even her husband, president george washington. >> we had talked about marquee de la fayette, and here he is again in 1825 when he comes to visit america on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the american revolution. this painting is done by thomas sully, a philadelphia artist, and lafayette is sort of posing for us in a grand outfit. his top hat and his cape and even though he was quite elderly and in his 70s at this time, people remarked at the time that he had this beautiful head of hair for such an old man. well, it was a massive wig, and some people were a little put off by what they see -- they saa as lafayette's vanity as an old
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man wanting to look young again, anyway, he's posing for thomas sully here in front of independence hall. that's the building in the background here and what's represent side all of the people who have come to honor him in 1824 or 25 when he's visiting the united states, and you can see the windows are full of people and even people standing on the roof. i thought we might shift gears a little bit. we're moving past the american revolution to the period of the 1790s when philadelphia was the capital of the united states and this portrait of william bartram is a great place to stop and think about philadelphia as a center for the arts and for science during the 18th century. william bartram who was a philadelphian by birth was a naturalist and you can see that peal has depicted in william bartram's portrait a flower
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specimen and this is a type of jasmine. william was a second-generation naturalist and his father had been the royal naturalist for george ii during the colonial period, and so his father takes him when william bartram was a young bay takes him on expeditions and he takes him over and becomes a naturalist himself and william bartram was most famous for georgia, florida, et cetera, where he discovered many new species of plants and would record all of these in beautiful water color drawings and charles wilson peal, the artist who painted this portrait had an affinity for bartram since peal himself was a naturalist, and i think they spent lots of time talking together about collecting plant specimens and teaching the rest of america about the real bounty and wonders of america's natural world, and this painting, when william bartram was rather old
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is a really nice character study, and he's just sort of calmly sitting there without much expression and here's the wonderful bald spot at the top of his head and the prominent vein on his temple and to depict him in detail with a lot of care. william bartram was charles wilson peal's friend and he was also his colleague as a fellow naturalist and the portrait reflects that professional association. >> next to william bartram is william clark, and i always have enjoyed this picture because clark was a vivid redhead and charles wilson peal did a nice job with his bushy red hair. clark, one of the famous half of the team of lewis and clark, the explorers who traveled for president thomas jefferson early in the 19th century to serve the
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territory that we now know as most of the third of the united states, the territory that america gained through the louisiana purchase. william clark was a soldier by training and he was brought to the expedition as the sort of military backbone of the lewis and clark expedition and when he and mary weather lewis get back after the expedition is over in 1806, charles wilson peal exhibits many of the specimens that the lewis and clark expeditions brought back. there were also native american artifacts and a very important opportunity for people who went to the philadelphia museum, charles wilson peal's museum to see indian artifacts for the very first time. so the portrait here of william clark, he looks very much the gentleman with his high collar and his lacy jabot, this portion of his shirt and you can see how weathered his face is from the nose and cheeks and chin and his
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forehead is almost white because he's always wearing a hat to protect it from the sun. charles wilson peal who didn't travel extensively, not as extensively as lewis and clark, still enjoyed talking to lewis and clark and other explorers about their adventures and that must have been the subject matter when william clark's portrait was being painted. we can't look at william clark's portrait without looking at mary lewis' portrait. >> you may recall it was very warm, his red hair and ruddy face and mary weather's portrait is quite cool. they're not painted at exactly the same time by charles wilson peal, but fairly close and the stud of mary weather lewis doesn't seem to have the same life to it that the study that
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clark did merryweather lewis who had been on thomas jefferson's staff, when he was president. merriweather was sort of a loner guy. he was hard to know, and he met his end in a rather untimely way. there's been a lot of discussion among scholars about whether he might have committed suicide. it's not known for sure, but his life was cut short by violence, and it seems that throughout that short life merriweather lewis was a rather moody person, and i almost think that charles wilson peal felt obligated to paint her portrait because he had done william clark's and he didn't feel the same affinity that merriweather lewis felt for his partner, even though he was the one in the lewis and clark expedition who made all of the map, and i think that that's important to keep in mind that
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that expedition was not just to cover territory, it was to document the west. so merry wlr lewweather lewis bt back to share with america and how important not just that land acquisition, the louisiana purchase was, but the wealth of information that it provided throughout the continent and merriweather lewis and william clark's expedition inspired which eventually led to crossing the rocky mountains and reaching the pacific ocean. >> too bad merriweather lewis didn't live to see that. >> this is an interesting painting, too, because charles wilson peal was experimenting with techniques and unlike most of his other pictures which were painted oil on canvas, this was painted on paper that was mounted on a board. the the paper is very thin and
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you can almost see the cracks on the board. we can't talk about the american revolution and not talk about the powerful intellect of john adams and here is the portrait of john adams that charles wilson peal painted. it is very easy to see how john adams got his nickname when he was vice president of the united states, and his nickname was his ro tundity, and you see his chubby cheeks and double chin, but that benign exterior, adams was rather short and sort of dumpy, hid behind it the most powerful mind, and john adams' eloquence with words is unparalleled. he didn't write the declaration of independence. he didn't write the u.s. constitution and he wasn't at the convention because he was foreign ambassador at the time. nevertheless, his power with words and the american revolution is unparalleled.
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so when this portrait was done of him, he was vice president, and i think that charles wilson peal really wanted us to see the man behind the intellect and this picture makes adams look, i think, kind of like your neighbor. he's not wearing a wig and his hair is balding on the top and he's got ready cheeks and a 5:00 shadow, and i think charles wilson peal in his portraits was really striving to make the portraits accessible to his visitors at the museum. he wanted his visitors to recognize them as subjects and not to see them as people up on pedestals and not to see them extraordinary in the sense of never having any failings, but rather real people who overcame what might have been their failings to accomplish an incredible feat and in adams' case, there's nothing truer than that. adams first comes to fame before the american revolution starts because he defends the british soldiers who were accused of
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murdering american citizens at the boston massacre. a very unpopular position, but i think adams really relished things that were unpopular because he really felt that he could make his mark, and ambition was john adams' middle name, but he was always trying to temper it. i think john adams was a very ethical person, a very moral person and despite his own personal need for power and recognition, he kept it in check because he knew that's what the republic needed. so i think adams is one of those founders who sacrificed his own advancement. yes, he becomes president, and of course, but he could have been, i think in his own mind much more than that, and yet he feels he needs to temper his own enthusiasm because after all, it's the common good and not the personal good that's important and when we look at charles
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wilson peal's portrait of adams, i think that's what we see, and i think we see someone who is purposely downplaying how smart he is, how ambitious he is in favor of what's needed by the new nation. well, let's take a look at something who didn't mind appearing to be grand, not at all. . >> this is alexander gerard in 1776 between america and france. without that alliance which came with money and soldiers, america could never have finished out the american revolution. the french were responsible for helping the united states win the war against great britain, and gerard as the first ambassador from france to america was welcomed with open arms by americans and this
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portrait was painted by charles wilson peal as a commission to the supreme executive council which was the governing body for the state of pennsylvania. they wanted to hang this painting in independence hall which was then called the pennsylvania state house which is where pennsylvania's government was located and we look at this painting and it's in what we call the grand manner style. this person is clearly aristocratic from his clothes and the setting in which he stands. he is posed there artificially with his one leg turned almost like a ballet posed and his hand on his hip. you can see he's wearing an ornamental sword on his left hip, and he's leaning his hand on some books. so what we've got going on here is somebody in a fancy suit who is clearly really smart and whose clearly really powerful, but it isn't just about that. the painting really was meant to celebrate the alliance between france and america, and if you look in the upper right corner of the canvas, you will see a
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rather ghostly depiction. it's meant to be a sculpture, and the sculpture is an allegory for france, and it's this partnership that the portrait is really about. it's not about alexander gerard's wealth or his aristocratic bearing, his fine wig or his beautiful clothes. it's about that relationship between france and america represented by will aligorical sculpture, if you look behind gerard's right angle, you get a stronger reminder that this portrait isn't about wealth and privilege. it's about the new nation because the building behind his right elbow is independence hall. so we're reminded that, yes, you need money and expertise and you need foreign support to win something like the revolution, and and it all comes back to
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where the declaration of independence was written, independence hall. i thought we would finish up by taking a look at a painting that's neither grand or political, famous or infamous and that's this portrait here. of this little boy, yes, it is a little boy even though it looks like he's wearing a dress. in the 18th century, children, boys or girl, wore what looked like dresses until the boys were about seven, and the reason for that is women wore dresses because neither women or children had status in society and this william buckley morris who was a philadelphiian makes him look like a little girl and he is a little boy. part of the reason he knows that, is he's holding a puppy which is a masculine prop.
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if he were a girl he would probably be holding a bird. behind here is a farm and that refers to his family's estate. samuel buckley morris didn't do anything famous. his grandfather fought in the american revolution, and he was a philadelphia merchant and a member of the society of quakers, the friends and he lived a comfortable life in the early 19th century, living in a country estate, but pictures of children often so remind us of what the dynamic of society is about. so if we look at the nation, what were they doing it for? >> they were doing it for children like samuel buckley morris and not only is this a portrait of a young boy, but this is a painting painted by a young boy. this picture was done by charles
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wilson peal's son rembrandt peal when he was a teenager. if you have a name like rembrandt peal you better grow up to be an artist. actually, he named all of the sons that he had with his wife after renaissance artists and there was rafael, rembrandt, and he was the most prolific and he did this wonderful painting of samuel buckley moris in 1795, the same year that rem grant pe rembrandt peal painted a picture of george washington. it's a really great way to understand the world of an artist and the career of an artist. you paint where the clients take you, and i think this portrayal with this wonderful little boy with the promise is a way for -- >> the locket survives. it was actually a wedding gift
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to his parents and it contains locks of their hair twined together. it's a portrait about generations and it's not just about a little boy. again, the artist is taking kind of an abstract concept and making it real and making it visual for us by adding elements to a painting that allows us to make more than the information than we see and samuel buckley morris is one of those characters that we don't read about in history books. he didn't sign the declaration of independence and he's one of the people who made the new nation just as much as george washington or john adams, and i think that's really the best part about coming to see the portraits here at independence park. you will see lots of different kinds of people and not all of them are famous, but all of them are important. this holiday weekend on
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american history tv on c-span3. tonight at 8:00 p.m. pulitzer prize-winning historian david mccullough talked about how the founder, particularly john adams, valued education, viewed slavery and persevered in the face of hardship and how these ideals shaped american society. >> he grew up in a farm where they had no money. his mother was illiterate, his father, we know, could sign his name, maybe could read because there was a bible in the house and that was the only book, and they worked hard every day, from childhood on. but because he got a scholarship from this college in cambridge called harvard, as he said, discovered books and read forever, he became the john adams who helped change the world. >> for a complete american history tv schedule, go to
4:10 pm c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's television companies and is brought to you today by this cable or satellite provider. up next on american history tv, alexander hamilton awareness society president discusses the relationship between alexander hamilton and george washington. he spoke at washington crossing state park in pennsylvania, introducing mr. chalet is the gentleman who portrays george washington at mount vernon. this is about 90 minutes. good evening, everyone. i wanted to welcome everyone to our wonderful presentation tonight. washington's indispensable partner and his interaction with our founding fa


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