Peale is likely writing to John Durand (1822-1908), painter and son of artist Asher B. Durand. John Durand co-founded a cultural and art periodical called, "The Crayon," published from Jan 3, 1855 to July 1861. Peale writes, "After you left me this morning it occurred to me that possibly in your next number you would give a few words on the Exhibition here - In this case you might say that it contained nothing from my pencil, & that I preferred to send a portrait, my last work in my 80th Year, to the New York Academy.... which I have done - That of a Young Man." Nicely signed, “Rembrandt Peale.” The painting's title refers to his, "Portrait of a Young Man." Peale had settled in Philadelphia by the time he wrote this letter, and that city is likely the place to which he refers regarding the Exhibition. Earlier in the year of our letter, 1857, Peale made prints that he called "Monochrome of Washington." When he lectured at the New York Historical Society on June 16, he displayed Washington portraits including a Monochrome decorated with cord and tassel. ( see journals at Penn State Univ. on line) Peale painted his first portrait at the age of 17 of President George Washington, in 1795. Over the course of his long and prolific career as portrait painter, Peale would paint over 70 pictures of Washington, portraits of President Thomas Jefferson as well as Chief Justice John Marshall. In addition to painting the Founding Fathers, Peale created many portraits including the one referenced in our letter.
Letters of Peale mentioning one of his works are particularly uncommon. Matted with bust length albumen print of the artist attached to a mat, possibly not the original mat. Corners of the print are somewhat damaged, image is somewhat faded. The portrait print of the artist matches the tone of Peale's letter and creates a handsome pairing.