Matthias and Thomas Bordley

Media - 1974.113 - SAAM-1974.113_1 - 4646
Copied Charles Willson Peale, Matthias and Thomas Bordley, 1767, watercolor on ivory, 3 584 18 in. (9.210.5 cm) oval, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase and gift of Mr. and Mrs. Murray Lloyd Goldsborough, Jr., 1974.113
Free to use

Artwork Details

Matthias and Thomas Bordley
Not on view
3 584 18 in. (9.210.5 cm) oval
Credit Line
Museum purchase and gift of Mr. and Mrs. Murray Lloyd Goldsborough, Jr.
Mediums Description
watercolor on ivory
  • Object — written matter — book
  • Portrait male — Bordley, Matthias — waist length
  • Portrait male — Bordley, Thomas — waist length
  • Recreation — leisure — reading
  • Object — art object — sculpture
  • Children
Object Number

Artwork Description

Charles Willson Peale’s tender portrait of Matthias and Thomas Bordley presents the young sons of John Beale Bordley, Peale’s early patron. This oval miniature is a reminder that such keepsakes were often painted to comfort the owner in the absence of the people portrayed. Bordley’s sons had just arrived in London to be educated at Eton, under the watchful eye of a family friend. Here, Peale shows them with a bust of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom, with a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background. Bordley had paid to send Peale to study in England, and during this trip the artist painted this miniature to give to the boys’ parents in Maryland. An inscription on the back indicates that Matthias was nine and his brother Thomas twelve years old when this was painted. Although Matthias would live to adulthood, Thomas died in England of tuberculosis in 1771.