Names From an Art Dynasty: Raffaelle, Rembrandt and Rubens Peale
Charles Willson Peale was one of the key players in early American art, painting some of the most famous political figures in American history. He founded a dynasty that would produce a number of important and influential artists. But it’s his creativity in naming his children which brought him to my attention.
Peale was married three times and had seventeen children with his first two wives, Rachel Brewer and Elizabeth de Peyster. Most of his children’s names are testament to his love of art, politics and the natural sciences. This man certainly knew how to stick to a theme (kind of…).
Rembrandt – named after the great seventeenth century Dutch painter
Titian Ramsay – the first of Charles’s son with this name, he gets his first moniker from the well-known artist. His middle one could be a nod to Allan Ramsay, a Scottish portrait painter, or to Charles’ brother-in-law Nathaniel Ramsay, with whom Charles shared an interest in politics
Sophonisba Augusciola –Sophonisba Augusciola was an Italian Renaissance artist who worked in the court of Phillip II of Spain.
Elizabeth de Peyster – named for her mother. But Charles was not the only one in his family to combine family names with ones from the art world. He not only passed down the family business of painting to his children, but he also passed down his love of artistic and wacky monikers.
His son Rembrandt carried on his tradition, albeit more subtly. Rembrandt had nine children in all, of which three were given names with art in mind: Michael Angelo, Rosalba Carriera, and Angelica (who called one of her sons Thomas Jefferson.)
Titian Ramsay, Charles’s youngest son, also had a liking for the unusual. Although he used Sybillia Miriam for a daughter and gave a son Titian as a middle name, he came up with other interesting and less obvious choices for his other children’s middle names: Bonaventure, Florida, Ord, Mcmahon, and Godman.
Charles’s younger brother, James Peale, also became an artist and developed a love for his craft. He had seven children (one of whom was unnamed) with his wife Mary Claypoole. Three of his daughters would go on to become notable still life painters.
Other interesting names from the extended Peale family tree (first and middle names):
Sephora, who goes by Zeffy on her blog Baby Names from Yesteryear, is a history obsessive and name enthusiast. She has a degree in history and likes to spend her spare time researching dusty old sources for forgotten gems. Gifted with an unusual name upon birth, she prefers to focus on the weird and wonderful world of unusual names.
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