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The Cover
June 27, 2007

Rachel Weeping

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(24):2673. doi:10.1001/jama.297.24.2673

When the Colonial portrait painter Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) married Rachel Brewer in 1762, the couple could not have foreseen the tragedy that lay in their immediate future. Although Rachel would eventually give birth to 11 children, the first four died in either infancy or early childhood. Not until the birth of Raphaelle in 1774 would a child survive to adulthood. (He was also the first to be named for an artist.) Other childhood survivors (also named for famous artists of past centuries) were Angelica Kauffmann, born 1775; Rembrandt, born 1778; Titian, born 1780; Rubens, born 1784; and Sophonisba Angusciola, born 1786. The Peales' 11th and last child, Rosalba Carriera, died before her second birthday, in 1790. Tragically, Rachel had died six months earlier at age 46. Titian died in 1798 at the age of 18; with the exception of Raphaelle, who “suffered from intemperance” (and died as a result of it at age 51), the others lived into their 70s or early 80s. Peale’s second marriage, to Elizabeth DePeyster, a woman in her 20s, produced six more children, of whom their first, Vandyke, died in infancy. This time, reflecting the father's added interests, the children were named for scientists as well as painters. One was Benjamin Franklin, another Charles Linnaeus. All (except Vandyke) reached adulthood and with the exception of Charles Linnaeus, who died before his 40th birthday, the others lived into their mid-50s, mid-70s, or mid-80s.

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