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Gallery Text

Sarah Miriam was one of the first professional female artists in the United States. Active in Baltimore and Philadelphia during the 1820s, she gained fame for her portraits and still lifes. This painting, one of Peale’s greatest works, portrays fruit in an ideal, unblemished state. No bruises or dents mar the melons, peaches, or grapes assembled on the table; rather, each is rendered as an exquisite, glistening jewel.

The Peale family occupies a unique position in the history of American art. Under the supervision and tutelage of painter, naturalist, and museum proprietor Charles Willson Peale, 10 members of the family became prolific, well-regarded painters. Sarah Miriam trained with her father, James Peale, a miniaturist and still-life painter. At moments, she shared studio space with several of her well-regarded cousins, including artist and mechanic Raphaelle Peale, botanist-painter Reubens Peale, portraitist Rembrandt Peale, and acclaimed miniaturist Angelica Kauffmann Peale Robinson.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Sarah Miriam Peale, American (Philadelphia, PA 1800-1885 Philadelphia, PA)
Still Life with Watermelon
Other Titles
Former Title: Still Life--Water-melon, etc.
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2410, South Arcade
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on panel
46.4 x 67 cm (18 1/4 x 26 3/8 in.)
frame: 63.5 x 85.7 x 7.6 cm (25 x 33 3/4 x 3 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: Sarah M. Peale 1822
  • inscription: verso, right side of frame, white chalk: [possibly an illegible letter] LEVY


Recorded Ownership History
Probably [John Levy Galleries, New York]. [Norman Hirschl, New York, NY, 1951], sold; to private collector, New York, NY, by descent; sold; to [Hollis Taggart Gallery, New York, NY, 2006], sold; to Harvard Art Museums, 2006

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Daniel A. Pollack, Class of 1960, American Art Acquisition Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Anna Wells Rutledge, Cumulative Record of Exhibition Catalogues: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1807-1870; The Society of Artists, 1800-1814; The Artists’ Fund Society, 1835-1845. (Philadelphia, PA, 1955), p. 169, no. 452
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), ill. p. 136
  • Thomas W. Lentz, ed., Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2006-7, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, 2008), p. 18
  • Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 35, 395-97, cat. 358, ill.
  • "Harvard Art Museums Receive Important Gift of American Silver", Artfixdaily Artwire ([e-journal], March 22, 2022),, accessed March 24, 2022
  • "The Wounded Fruit", website, August 23, 2023, discussed and repr. [; accessed 9-8-23]
  • From Peale to Peto: American Masters from the Pollack Collection, auct. cat., Christie's, New York (New York, January 19, 2023), under lot 202

Exhibition History

  • Eleventh Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 05/01/1822 - 05/31/1822
  • Re-View: S424-426 Western Art from 1560 to 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • GenEd US12 American Encounters: Art, Contact, and Conflict, 1560-1860 (S427) Spring 2012, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 05/12/2012
  • 32Q: 2410 South Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights

Verification Level

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