Charles Peale Polk

Charles Peale Polk

Male 1767 - 1822  (55 years)

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  • Name Charles Peale Polk 
    Born 17 Mar 1767  Annapolis, MD Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 6 May 1822  Warsaw, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I4026  avefamily
    Last Modified 1 Feb 2011 

    Father Robert Polk,   b. ca 1744,   d. 1777  (Age ~ 33 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Digby Peale,   b. 20 Jan 1746/1747,   d. 1777  (Age 29 years) 
    Married 26 Sep 1765  Annapolis, Anne Arundel Co., MD Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F1193  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • (b Annapolis, MD, 17 March 1767; d Warsaw, VA, 6 May 1822). American painter. Orphaned as a child, he was raised in Philadelphia, PA, by his uncle, Charles Willson Peale, who taught him to paint. In 1791 Polk moved to Baltimore, MD, where he achieved limited success as a portrait painter. Seeking commissions, he moved to Frederick, MD, in 1796. Over the next five years during travels as an itinerant limner through western Maryland and Virginia he reached his mature style. Abandoning his academic training, Polk developed a distinctive but naive artistic vocabulary with a heightened palette, electric highlights and an exaggerated attenuation of the human form. The portraits of Isaac Hite and his wife Eleanor Madison Hite, as well as James Madison sr and Eleanor Conway Madison (all Middletown, VA, Belle Grove), were commissioned in 1799 and are accepted as his masterpieces. Isaac Hite also commissioned the quintessentially 'republican' portrait of Thomas Jefferson (New York, Victor Spark priv. col.), executed at Monticello in 1799. In 1801 Polk moved to Washington, DC, working as a clerk in the Treasury. During the next 16 years he painted few portraits in oil but did execute some in verre ?glomis? (a type of reverse painting with gold leaf on glass that first became popular in France at the end of the 18th century). Notable examples include portraits of James Madison and Albert Gallatin (both c. 1802-3; Worcester, MA, Amer. Antiqua. Soc.). Polk spent the last years of his life in Richmond County, VA, presumably as a farmer, although artist's supplies listed in his estate suggest that he may have continued to paint.

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