June 5, 2022 14:00 EST

American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists

  Lot 1


Margaretta Angelica Peale (American, 1795–1882)
Still Life with Strawberries in a Plate with Cherries on Tabletop

Signed and dated 'Marga'ta A. Peale/1865' bottom left; also inscribed 'Painted by/Miss M.A. Peale' verso, oil on canvas
9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5cm)


The Artist.
A gift from the above.
Collection of Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878), the Artist's sister, and her second husband, General William Duncan (1722-1864), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
To George Washington Duncan (1809-1874), the son of General William Duncan.
To his son, James Jefferson Duncan I (1856-1913).
To his son, Ronald Bruce Duncan (1883-1960).
To his son, James Jefferson Duncan II (1929-2009).
To their children, Seth Ronald Duncan and Lauren Duncan Scalen, Pennsylvania (since 2009).

$25,000 - $40,000

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Signed and dated 'Marga'ta A. Peale/1865' bottom left; also inscribed 'Painted by/Miss M.A. Peale' verso, oil on canvas
9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5cm)


The Artist.
A gift from the above.
Collection of Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878), the Artist's sister, and her second husband, General William Duncan (1722-1864), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
To George Washington Duncan (1809-1874), the son of General William Duncan.
To his son, James Jefferson Duncan I (1856-1913).
To his son, Ronald Bruce Duncan (1883-1960).
To his son, James Jefferson Duncan II (1929-2009).
To their children, Seth Ronald Duncan and Lauren Duncan Scalen, Pennsylvania (since 2009).


Although she never considered herself a professional painter, Margaretta A. Peale produced a series of exquisite and beautifully detailed still lifes throughout her short career, gifting them to her relatives and friends. Trained by her father James Peale and heavily influenced by her cousin Raphaelle, the first ever American painter of still lifes, Margaretta found her own aesthetic expression and left a body of work (limited in size, but not in quality) marked by a simple, yet highly poetic sensitivity. She is credited for having painted just about fifty oils, a third of which have only resurfaced.

The artist’s rarity on today’s market underpins the importance of the present and following works. Both denote the strong influence that 17th century Flemish Old Master painting held on the young female artist, and channel aspects of the art of Abraham Gibbens, Adriaen Coorte and even Louyse Moillon from France. Constructed on a subtle contrast of strong hues (green and red), which the neutral background enhances in each case, the still lifes are imbued with a timelessness and ethereal quality which makes them instantly recognizable.

Very precise and sharp in design and outline, the present work is an important example of still life with berries. A known composition that the artist revisited several times, it is originally derived from an earlier version now at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which Margaretta Peale was one of the first female artists to join as a member, alongside her sister.

A note on the Provenance of the work

The present and following lots come fresh to the market with an illustrious provenance. The canvases were gifted by Margaretta Peale to her older sister, portrait miniature painter Anna Claypoole Peale, who married Brigadier General William Duncan in 1841. After receiving a brigade command at camp Dupont near Wilmington during the War of 1812, Duncan was among the founding members of the Board of Trustees of Thomas Jefferson Hospital (now Thomas Jefferson University) and helped organize, together with his brother Steven Duncan Esq., the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Since Anna and William had no children together, the canvases descended directly through the Duncan Family, passing first to General William Duncan’s son from his first marriage, George Washington Duncan, who was named after America’s first President with whom the family had strong military and personal ties. The paintings thence descended to James Jefferson Duncan I and ultimately to his grandson, Mr. James Jefferson Duncan II, father of the present consignors. Mr. James Jefferson Duncan II was a proud and active member of the National Society Sons of the Revolution, and of the Society of the Cincinnati, among other national organizations.

The history of the Duncan and Peale American families are intimately weaved, both having played major roles during the burgeoning years of the American Revolutionary War. As the ultimate visual representation of the link uniting the two illustrious families, these two still life paintings by Margaretta Peale stand out as iconic images, a true part of Philadelphia's and America's (art) history.


Frame: 12 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 1 1/4 in.

The unlined canvas in overall very good condition, with a slight ripple in the canvas at upper right quadrant. Slight, very thin and flat (stabilized) craquelure, especially visible in the bottom tier of the work. With a very glossy finish, which makes it hard to inspect the work. Examination under UV light reveals residual greenish varnish throughout, which suggests a selective cleaning. With old, and very careful inpainting in some of the craquelure at bottom right corner. Otherwise apparently intact. See specialist's pictures for more details.

Please note: All lots show signs of wear consistent with age and use, and the absence of a statement regarding condition issues does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from imperfections or the effects of aging.

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