Inscribed on verso: (black ink traced over blue): "A copy I made from a very old painting, by my Grandfather Chas W Peale./of the farm, and approach, to his handsome Garden, and grounds at Germantown near Philadelphia,/Pa./Anna Sellers"
Anna Peale Sellers grew up in Philadelphia and, being the granddaughter of Charles Willson Peale, was surrounded by the numerous artists of the Peale family. She studied in Rome during the 1860s and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1876, 1877, and 1882 (in that year Thomas Eakins, whose instruction was based on close study of the nude figure, was promoted from “Professor” to “Director” of the Academy). In her fifties when she first attended the Academy, Sellers was “shocked to discover that women students drew from the nude female and nearly nude male figure” (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Pennsylvania Academy and Its Women, p. 31). She exhibited at the Academy in 1866, 1877, and 1878. Her paintings are in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.
As noted on the reverse of the work, this scene is copied from a work by Sellers' grandfather, Charles Willson Peale. Peale often included landscapes as backgrounds to his paintings, but "pure" landscapes by him are few. In 1815 he planned a "Belfield" series to explore the possibilities of landscape painting, made with the aid of a "machine to take drawings" which he had constructed. In a letter from 1818 to his son Rembrandt about the view depicted here, Charles wrote: "I have chosen two views which I wish to paint. One is at the beginning of the rise of the high hill leading to Germantown. It takes in my obelisk, Barn and mansion House and both the Summer Houses--The Gate & willow tree on the left, the hill back of the Garden; the road, the water in the road & mill race, and a piece of Mr. Wistar's wood for a finish on the right of the picture."
"Belfield Farm" near the Germantown section of Philadelphia was the retirement home of Charles Willson Peale. Purchased in 1810 and originally called "Farm Persevere," he changed the name in 1812 to the more relaxed sounding "Belfield" after the estate of the painter John Hesselius which Peale had known in his youth. In 1826 it was sold to Joseph Logan Fisher, remaining in the Fisher-Wister family until its sale in 1984 to LaSalle University.
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