1774–1825 Cutlet and Vegetables, 1816 Oil on panel, 18 1/4 x 24 1/4 in.
Raphaelle Peale was taught to paint by his father, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), an accomplished soldier, scientist, artist, and founder of a dynasty of early American painters. By the age of twenty-one, Raphaelle was recognized as America’s first—and leading—still life painter.
Although flowers may be thought of as the most typical of still-life subjects, Peale was far more interested in delineating the colors and textures of food. The majority of his paintings depict fruits, and such paintings would typically have been hung as decorations in dining rooms. Cutlet and Vegetables is one of only two known paintings by Peale of meat and vegetables, and this unusually well preserved composition is the largest of Peale’s known still-life panels. An extra strip of wood was attached to the main panel, most likely to further the illusion of a real table edge.
Peale and his family apparently thought well of the picture, which hung at the Peale Museum in Philadelphia, founded by the artist’s father, from the year after it was painted until the mid-nineteenth century.