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Names From an Art Dynasty: Raffaelle, Rembrandt and Rubens Peale

July 27, 2014 Zeffy

By Sephora, Baby Names from Yesteryear

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…).

Margaret Janelikely named for her paternal aunt and grandmother

James Willsonshared his first name with his uncle, and his middle name with his father and a wealthy great-uncle.

Eleanorname of maternal grandmother, Eleanor Maccubbin

Margaret Van Bordley – I haven’t been able to trace the origin of Bordley. It could have been a family name or surname, as Charles had a niece called Elizabeth Bordley.

Raphaelle – named after Raphael, the famous sixteenth century Italian painter

Angelica Kauffman – reputedly Charles’ favourite female artist, Angelica Kauffman was a highly influential female artist and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts in England

Rembrandtnamed 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  

Rubens – after the Flemish painter, Peter Paul Reubens

Sophonisba Augusciola –Sophonisba Augusciola was an Italian Renaissance artist who worked in the court of Phillip II of Spain.

Rosalba Carriera – another famous female artist, Rosalba was born in Venice and found favour with a number of aristocratic families

Vandyke – named for the great Flemish painter Van Dyke.

Charles Linnaeus – The first son to carry his father’s first name, Charles Linnaeus got his middle name from the Carl Linnaeus, the prominent botanist and physician

Benjamin FranklinCharles painted Benjamin Franklin in 1789 and was an admirer of his

Sybilla Miriam – named for Maria Sibylla Merian, the naturalist and scientific illustrator

Titian Ramsay – given this name after the death of his older brother

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.

Jane Ramsay, Maria, James Junior, Anna Claypoole, Margaretta Angelica, and Sarah Miriam  

Other interesting names from the extended Peale family tree (first and middle names):

Alverda

Archiana

Beckenridge

Bolivar

Carapaba

Furgurson

Hercules

Lyles

St George

Warfe

Washington

Wickham

Wright

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.  

About the author

Zeffy

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.

View all of Zeffy's articles

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