Peale’s images of the Mr. and Mrs. Francis Bailey of Philadelphia are noteworthy for their apparent honesty and directness. The sitters wear neither jewelry nor any other adornment. Peale was undoubtedly good company for Francis Bailey (accession number 1957.146), who shared his political views. A journalist and editor, Bailey was the official printer and publisher for Congress.
Eleanor Miller Bailey, who grasps an enormous Bible, peers out at the viewer with an appraising glance. Her portrait sensitively conveys a formidable personality housed in a somewhat frail body. Peale’s brilliant characterization of this couple showcases his ability to make the viewer feel as though his subjects could speak at any moment.
After Francis Bailey’s death in 1815, Eleanor Bailey moved to Cincinnati with five of her eleven children; presumably she brought these portraits with her. She lived in Cincinnati until her death in 1832.