WONDER OF THE WORLD: Charles Willson Peale by Laura Kerr

WONDER OF THE WORLD: Charles Willson Peale

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A highly fictionalized biography of the Revolutionary War portraitist, Philadelphia impressario, collector and sire extraordinare, which doesn't mirror the energy of the man or do more than exhibit his work. The story, even the history, is prodded along by unlikely conversation: nursing a new baby, his wife remarks, ""May he know only peace and prosperity""; ""Peace is not for our time,"" Charles replies. ""How can we feel no anger when the King closes oston Harbor to all sea trade, when the Parliament demands that Massachusetts rewrite its constitution according to royal order."" No small courtesy is skipped (encountering Martha Washington, Peale, among other inquiries, asks after the health of the Custis children) which hobbles the pace. In any case, not until after laboring through two-thirds of the book (including, long, detailed military service) do we reach what's most intriguing: the gallery of Revolutionary heroes, the Triumphal Arch(es), the museum and mastodon. The 1967 Plate biography is no better: Peale is still waiting for his Boswell, and he'd better be good.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls