Samuel Eliot


Rembrandt Peale (American 1778–1860)




Oil on canvas


30 1/16 x 25 in. (76.4 x 63.5 cm)


Rembrandt Peale, a member of a famous Philadelphia dynasty of artists, knew exactly how to make the often simple art of portraiture interesting by posing his subject with objects of symbolic significance. Though only four years old when painted by Peale, Samuel Eliot (1821–1898) is given the trappings of success and achievement in the form of a swath of red fabric reminiscent of  a classical toga. The otherwise unidentifiable garment links Samuel to the ancient world and promises him a bright future of erudition and fame. Peale probably felt that young Master Eliot deserved the same consideration in this regard as did his elders. And indeed, the child grew up to become a noted historian, educator, and philanthropist.

Credit Line

Gift of Samuel Eliot Morison, grandson of the sitter, 1976

Object Number