"150th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts"
|Michel: 684 Scott: 1064 Stanley
1066 Yvert: 591 UPU: N/A Category:
|Stamps in set
|3c - 150th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania
the Fine Arts
|Size (width x height)
|50 stamps per sheet
|FDC x 1
|Rotary Press two colors brown-purple
|Rotary Press Printing
|U.S. Postal Service
The stamp was issued in conjunction with
the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine
Arts. The stamp pictures Charles Wilson Peale's self-portrait, "The
Artist in His Museum." Many of the museum's exhibits were collected by
Peale, and he includes some of them in his painting. The stamp features
several, like a wild turkey ready to be preserved. The stamp also shows
a great mastodon bone, in honor of one of Peale's greatest achievements
- the rebuilding of a mastodon's skeleton.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts was founded in 1805 by
painter and scientist Charles Wilson Peale (1741-1827), sculptor
William Rush, and other leading business leaders in 1805. It is the
oldest art museum and school in the nation. The museum is world famous
for its collection of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century American
paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. The Academy's museum
building was opened in 1876. It was designed by the American architects
Frank Furness and George Hewitt. The building, which is a National
Historic Landmark, was restored in 1976.
Some more details
Charles Willson Peale (April 15, 1741 - February 22, 1827) was an
American painter, soldier and naturalist. He is best remembered for his
portrait paintings of leading figures of the American
Revolution, as well as establishing one of the first museums.
Peale had a great interest in natural history, and organized
the first U.S. scientific expedition in 1801. These two major interests
combined in his founding of what became the Philadelphia
Museum, and was later renamed the Peale Museum.
This museum is considered the first. It housed a diverse
collection of botanical, biological, and archaeological specimens. Most
notably, the museum contained a large variety of birds which Peale
himself acquired, and it was the first to display North American mastodon
bones (which in Peale's time were referred to as mammoth bones; these
common names were amended by Georges
Cuvier in 1800, and his proposed usage is that employed
Exhuming the First American Mastodon painted
Remains of the mastodon discovered in 1799, when workmen
was digging in a marl pit on John Masten's farm
uncovered a massive femur. A frenzy of digging ensued as neighbors
descended upon the site and soon a considerable assemblage of bones
laid on the floor of Masten's granary. Interest in these unusual bones
soon diminished until the next year when local clergy and
physicians alerted of their importance by the American
Philosophical Society's appeal sent news of the discovery to
associates New York City and ultimately to Philadelphia and Thomas
Despite being embroiled in the most serious electoral
challenge of the new republic , Jefferson sent an emissary to procure
the bones. However, Masten and the local townspeople balked.
mastodon skull partial skull and jaw of Peale's "Mammoth" (after
Charles Willson Peale traveled to Masten's farm in 1801,
obstensibly to draw the fossils, but he soon bought the bones on the
granary floor and the secured the right to excavate for others. Peale
returned to Philadelphia to obtain the support of the American
Philosophical Society and Jefferson. Later that year he was back at
Masten's farm leading an ambitious excavation, which, unfortunately,
yielded little new material. Following leads at other local sites,
Peale's team ultimately exhumed a nearly complete second skeleton at
Triumphant, Peale and his skeletons returned to Philadelphia.
He spent the next three months reconstructing the animal under the
supervision of Caspar Wistar, the leading anatomist of the country;
those bones that were not recovered were substituted with either wood
or paper mache. The completed first skeleton generated a
sensation in its debut at the American Philosophical Society in late
December of 1801 and was a rousing success when it was displayed to the
public soon thereafter. "Mammoth" fever swept the country.
The display of the "mammoth" bones entered Peale into a long standing
debate between Thomas Jefferson and Comte de Buffon.
Buffon argued that Europe was superior to the Americas biologically, which was illustrated through the size of
animals found there.
Jefferson referenced the existence of these "mammoths" (which he believed still roamed northern regions of the
continent) as evidence for a greater biodiversity in America.
Peale's display of these bones drew attention from Europe, as did his method of
re-assembling large skeletal specimens in three dimensions.
The museum was among the first to adopt Linnaean taxonomy.
This system drew a stark contrast between Peale's museum and his
competitors who presented their artifacts as mysterious oddities of the
The museum underwent several moves during its existence. At
various times it was located in several prominent buildings including
Independence Hall and the original home of the American Philosophical
The museum would eventually fail, in large part because Peale
was unsuccessful at obtaining government funding.
After his death, the museum was sold to, and split up by, showmen P. T. Barnum
and Moses Kimball.
In 1854, German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup (1803-1873) bught the mastodon
from former collection of Peale's musuem - the one
immortalized in Charles Willson Peale's painting of the 1801 excavation.
It is currently on display in Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Germany.
The stamp is reproduction of "The
Artist in His Museum", self portret of Charles Peale,
painted in 1822. Toward the end of his career,
beginning in 1822, he painted seven self-portraits that together formed
the final motif of his art and the final flourishing of his talent. The
Artist in His Museum is a large-scale oil-on-canvas work painted in
about two months, and is the most emblematic of Peale's many
The Artist in His Museum (self-portrait, 1822) is
displayed at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
In 1822 he was asked by the museum's trustees to paint a full-length
portrait of himself for the
museum. The 81-year-old artist endeavored to "not only make it a
lasting monument of my art as a Painter, but also that the design
should be expressive, that I bring forth into public view, the beauties
of Nature and Art, the rise & progress of the Museum." He
further said, "I wish it may excite some admiration, otherwise my labor
is lost, except that it is a good likeness." Peale's determination to
honor his career is reflected in his having painted two preliminary
versions of The Artist, unusual for an artist who took pride in
producing likenesses with little preparatory work.
There are three spaces in the work. The
foreground of the painting depicts in low light some natural objects of
the museum. At the front left, a dead wild turkey sits with Peale's
taxidermic tools, brought back by his son Titian and waiting to join
the collection to reveal its meaning as a national symbol. Another
American symbol, the bald eagle, is higher on the left edge of the
canvas, mounted by Peale "the strength of the Eagles Eye is really
astonishing" and is now one of his few surviving specimens. On the
extreme left is an early donation: a paddlefish from the Allegheny
River in an upright case, marked "With this article the Museum
commenced, June, 1784".To Peale's left lie the bones of a mastodon; the
assembled skeleton that shows from behind the curtain was the museum's
main attraction. Peale had unearthed and reconstructed a mastodon in
1800, an event he chronicled in his 1806 painting Exhuming the First
American Mastodon (left). The artist's palette and brushes to
his left contribu
Another Self Portrait of Charles Willson Peale, With
Mastodon Bone, 1824
te to the autobiographical statement.
The middle ground highlights Peale. In the
painting, the artist invites the viewer into his museum; he pulls back
a draped crimson curtain, which divides the painting's space, to reveal
the collection. He used a similar motif on the printed acknowledgments
he sent to museum donors, on which a curtain labeled "Nature" is held
back to reveal a landscape with animals. According to critic David C.
Ward, the positioning of Peale "has the effect of creating a dialectic
between life and art, painter and audience, the individual and American
culture at large, and finally past and present. The figure of Peale
bridges these realms further drawing attention to and
heightening the impact of his creativity."
The deep background behind the curtain gives
the portrait its unique significance. Peale collected thousands of
specimens of birds and other animals for his museum by soliciting
donations or hunting them himself. The museum's receding shelves
display animal species organized by Linnaean classification, and above
them are portraits of revolutionary heroes and other notable Americans,
whose placement suggests the position of humans in the great chain of
being. Peale believed that physiognomy, whether of humans in portraits
or of animal specimens, provided insight into character. To Peale, the
behavior of animals served as a model for a moral, productive, and
socially harmonious society. In the far background a child represents
posterity benefiting from the museum's lessons in natural history.
Likewise the woman nearer to the foreground represents the museum's
power to inspire feelings of awe and wonder in the face of the sublime.
Yet as the space recedes, so does Peale's life and the intellectual and
scientific culture of the time the American Enlightenment.
USA 1954 - "Thomas Jefferson third
president of the United State"
USA 1968 - "Thomas Jefferson third
president of the United State"
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
THE STORY OF CHARLES WILLSON PEALE’S MASSIVE MASTODON
Last update 04.01.2018
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