Cabbage Patch, The Gardens of Belfield, Pennsylvania
Charles Willson Peale
This charming painting combines a cabbage patch in the fore ground and a tempietto and a column in the middle distance, thereby encapsulating Peale's goal of developing Belfield as a working farm that is also beautiful. A carefully plotted grid of cabbage plants is complemented by surrounding paths, stone walls, and a road. The cabbages are meticulously delineated, as are the stones in the wall behind them. Peale was an avid maker and user of mechanical devices, and relished the newest and latest machines. In painting landscapes, he used a quadrant, which facilitated his placement of the elements in perspective. The resulting effect demonstrates the high value that Peale placed on rational order, evident also in the grids of portraits and display cases in "The Artist in His Museum." Despite the order established by the perspectival plan, Peale achieves a picturesque effect by contrasting a row of tall, straight, spindly trees with two larger trees that have broad canopies. He also contrasts the natural and constructed elements, the linear and the rounded, and the cultivated farms with the untouched woods in the distance.