Rembrandt Peale (Born 1778) was an American painter born in Bucks, Pennsylvania. He was also a writer and portraitist who specialized in the production of portraits of prominent figures in the post-Revolutionary US and Europe. His father, Charles Willson Peale, was also an artist, a portrait painter, and Peale together with his brother Raphaelle, inherited his painting skills after he retired from the profession in 1794. While his brother became better known for his graceful still-life compositions, Peale carried on his father’s mantle in portraiture. Peale studied in London with Benjamin West, the American expatriate painter, and emulated the sculptural Neoclassical style of his father in works such as his 1805 portrait of Thomas Jefferson - the artist’s best existing portrait and the acknowledged masterpiece of Jefferson. Peale continued training at the Royal Academy in London. He lived in Paris between 1808 and 1810, where his work was admired by the renowned Neoclassical artist of the day, Jacques-Louis David.
Napoleon offered Peale the post of court painter. Probably because of some unfavorable criticism, Peale stopped painting for several years, and in 1814 he opened a portrait gallery and museum in Baltimore, Md., which he named as the Baltimore Museum. This is where Peale exhibited the first works to be illuminated by gaslight. In 1822 Peale sold his museum; it is now is devoted to local history and is known as the Peale Museum. When he started painting again he turned to formal subject pieces because he wanted to move beyond portraiture. The artist culminated this phase of his painting with a piece titled “The Court of Death” in 1820. He exhibited this piece throughout the country.