Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Charles Willson Peale, 15 Apr 1741 - 22 Feb 1827  Search this
Amerigo Vespucci, Mar 1454 - 22 Feb 1512  Search this
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 58.4 x 48.3cm (23 x 19")
Frame: 65.1 x 55.9 x 3.2cm (25 5/8 x 22 x 1 1/4")
Amerigo Vespucci: European\Italian  Search this
Exhibition Label:
Born Florence, Italy
Italian merchant and explorer Amerigo Vespucci made several voyages to what is now Brazil in the early sixteenth century; America is named after him. Thomas Jefferson considered Vespucci to be one of four "first discoverers" whose portraits should be preserved in the United States. In 1787, he commissioned copies of portraits of Vespucci, Christopher Columbus, Hernando Cortés, and Ferdinand Magellan that were in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Other Americans followed suit, making copies of these portraits to augment the historical record. During the winter of 1816, artist and museum-keeper Charles Willson Peale, who wanted copies of these four "noted voyagers" for his collection of portraits in Philadelphia, borrowed paintings owned by diplomat and poet Joel Barlow and created this portrait. It remained in Peale’s museum until 1854 and still retains its original frame.
Peale Museum, Philadelphia; Peale Museum sale, 1854, number 2; Wilson C. Swann, Philadelphia; gift 1859 to Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; transferred to the Atwater Kent Museum (now the Philadelphia History Museum); deaccessioned to (Christie's, New York, 29 September 2010, bought in); purchased 2011 NPG
Amerigo Vespucci: Male  Search this
Amerigo Vespucci: Natural Resources\Explorer  Search this
Amerigo Vespucci: Business and Finance\Businessperson\Merchant  Search this
Amerigo Vespucci: Science and Technology\Navigator  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery