The Artist in His Museum (1822) shows him lifting a curtain to reveal his museum. A partial jaw and a large mastodon bone can be seen on the bottom right propped up against the green table cloth as well as a peek of the mastodon behind the curtain. An artist's palette sits on top of the table.
Peale had already established a museum in Philadelphia, which was known as Peale’s Museum, and was eventually moved to the second floor of Independence Hall. This museum contained portraits of famous Americans, a number of Native American relics, wax dummies, as well as specimens of natural history. He invented his own type of taxidermy and was the first to present animals in a natural setting. Additionally he created background paintings in dioramas to depict habitat; his mastery of trompe d'oeil gave a three dimensional quality to the scene. Charles Willson Peale was a century ahead of his time.
Charles Willson Peale was born in Chester, Queen Anne’s County Maryland April 15, 1741 to Charles Peale and his wife Margaret. His father was called an adventurer who was transported to the colonies from England for forgery and embezzlement. Peale's father died when he was nine years old leaving him, his brother James, and their mother in dire financial straits. At this tender age, Peale became the head of his family trying to take care of both his younger brother and mother by entering into a series of opportunities to make money.