Peale, Charles Wilson (1741-1827) Artist: Born in Queen Anne County, Maryland, on April 15, 1741; Charles Willson Peale began as a saddle-maker's apprentice. After he was unsuccessful in this trade, he began a career as a portrait painter. Seeking the patronage of the wealthy, he traveled to New England and Virginia for clients. Obtaining a letter of introduction to Benjamin West, the famous American painter working in London, he studied under West for two years. When Peale returned to North America, he was in high demand as a portrait artist. By 1776, he had moved to Philadelphia. There, he painted some of the delegates to the Continental Congress; as well as many revolutionary officers, including General Washington. Peale served in the Philadelphia militia until 1778, when the British evacuated the city. After the Revolutionary War, he converted his art gallery into an exhibition hall for "natural curiosities." While Peale became increasingly interested in amateur scientific research, four of his sons kept up their father's interests. Peale died in Philadelphia, on February 22, 1827.