Biografie von Thomas BIRCH (1779-1851)

Birth place: Warwickshire, England

Death place: Philadelphia

Addresses: Philadelphia (1793-on)

Profession: Marine, landscape, portrait, and miniature painter

Studied: with his father, William Russell Birch

Exhibited: Columbianum Exh., Phila., 1795 (4 views of London); Society of Artists and PAFA, 1811-62; Artists' Fund Society at PAFA, 1835-45; NAD, 1832-45; American Academy,1833-35; Apollo Assoc., 1838, 1839; American Art-Union,1838-50; Md. Hist. Soc., 1848-58; Brooklyn AA, 1872

Member: NAD (Honorary Member, Professional); PAFA (Keeper, 1812-17)

Work: PAFA; Pennsylvania Hist. Soc.; NYHS; Brooklyn Museum; Shelburne (VT) Mus.; Nantucket Hist. Ass"n

Comments: Came to Philadelphia from England in 1794 with his father, the noted enamelist and miniature painter, William Russell Birch. The two worked together 1799-1800 as William Birch & Son, designing. engraving, and publishing topographic views of Philadelphia. Around 1806, Thomas Birch began painting portraits (in both oil and watercolor) as well as marine subjects. He became especially noted for his ship portraits, seascapes, and winter scenes, as well as his paintings of naval battles of the War of 1812. Although his primary residence was in Philadelphia, Birch also painted in New Jersey, visiting Bordentown several times and painting views at Point Breeze, the Delaware River estate of the exiled Joseph Bonaparte, former king of Naples and Spain. He also painted an early view of the town of Nantucket, although he may not have actually traveled there. Despite the respect of his peers, he died poor, discouraged by a lack of patronage.

Sources: G&W; DAB: CAB: Stokes, Historical Prints; Brown and Brown; Phila. CD 1802-51; Rutledge, PA; Rutledge, MHS; Cowdrey, NAD; Cowdrey, AA & AAU; Cummings, Historic Annals, 226; Sartain, Reminiscences, 143, 180; Karolik Cat., 111-23, eight repros.; Flexner, The Light of Distant Skies, biblio., 258. More recently, see Baigell, Dictionary; Gerdts, Art Across America, vol. 1: 231; Muller, Paintings and Drawings at the Shelburne Museum, 30 (w/repros.); add"l info. courtesy Nantucket Hist. Ass"n.

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