The younger brother of Charles Willson Peale (see B.55.15 and B.60.49), James Peale assisted his brother until he became an independent artist in the mid-1780s, painting miniatures and still lifes (see B.85.2). As evidenced by the artist s only extant sketchbook, the younger Peale was drawing landscapes possibly as early as 1786. The studies for the Bayou Bend landscape, including drawings of the various buildings, bridges, and botanical life of the site, identified as the Musconetcong Creek ironworks and gristmill at Bloomsbury, New Jersey, are contained in this sketchbook.

The Bayou Bend picture, among the earliest and most significant of James Peale's landscape paintings, merges various landscape traditions with the growing interest in the American landscape (this interest would culminate in the so-called Hudson River school). This landscape is essentially topographical, inasmuch as it documents a specific site and offers a vivid account of the botanical life of the area. The landscape is also a part of the British picturesque tradition, with its preference for scenic imagery. With the exception of the lone figure at far left, who appears to be the only one joined to the landscape by work, these charming figures at their leisure may represent the fashionable clientele who summered at nearby Schooley’s Mountain Hotel. The figures mark the burgeoning tourism of American picturesque sites and the eager market for images of them.

RELATED EXAMPLES: The James Peale Sketchbook (American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia), includes six studies for the Bayou Bend landscape. The earliest dated work in the sketchbook is 1786 and the latest is 1801; James Peale, The Ramsay-Polk Family at Carpenter's Point (ca. 1793, Copeland Collection, Delaware); and View on the Wissahickon (1830, PMA).

Book excerpt: Warren, David B., Michael K. Brown, Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and Emily Ballew Neff. American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection. Houston: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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James Peale, American, 1749–1831
Pleasure Party by a Mill
late 1780s
Oil on canvas
Canvas: 26 1/4 × 40 1/8 in. (66.7 × 101.9 cm)
Credit Line

The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Possibly raffled in 1788, Annapolis, to either a Carroll, Waller, or Latimer, and thence to Percival Christie; to Lawrence Fleischman, Detroit; to Kennedy Galleries, until 1962; to Miss Ima Hogg, July 1, 1962 (acquired as a work by Charles Willson Peale).