Titian Ramsay Peale1799 - 1885
Born: November 2, 1799, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: March 13, 1885, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Titian Ramsay Peale was born into a career as an artist. His father, Charles Willson Peale, was a painter who produced the first portrait of General George Washington in 1772. Titian, Charles’s second son from his first marriage, also became a successful artist. Although Titian attended anatomy lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, much of his education was privately directed by his father, who allowed his children to study in the Philadelphia Museum, (then called Peale's Museum, located next to Independence Hall) which Charles organized and founded.
During this time, Philadelphia had an active scientific community. It is not surprising that Titian, inspired by his surroundings, became a natural history painter. In 1817, Titian was elected to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Pennsylvania, and shortly thereafter he joined fellow academicians Thomas Say, William Maclure, and George Ord in a research expedition to Florida and Georgia. Finding the adventurous life of exploring, studying, and painting in wild places appealing, Titian enthusiastically joined Stephen Harriman Long's United States Government expedition to the Midwest in 1819 as an assistant naturalist. He completed 122 illustrations of previously unrecorded flora and fauna.
In the years following the Long Expedition, Peale established a successful career as a natural history illustrator. He worked with his former expedition-mate Say, who was writing a study of American insects in 1824. Peale exhibited four watercolors at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1822, the same year he married Eliza Laforgue. Upon his father’s death in 1827, he became curator of the Peale Museum, making him one of America's earliest museum curators.
Titian also joined a two-year expedition to the Magdalena River in South America in 1830; when he returned home, he composed a monumental study of butterflies. It was from 1838 – 1842, however, that Titian undertook his most ambitious enterprise: traveling on the first American research expedition around the entire globe. He had a difficult time publishing some of his work w because of conflicts with the expedition's captain, Charles Wilkes. After 1849, Titian took a job with the United States Patent Office to earn a sufficient living. While working in the Patent Office, Titian became interested in the developing art of photography, and also painted in oils extensively. He formed the Philosophical Society of Washington and the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club, America's first organization dedicated to photography. Titian Peale passed away in Philadelphia in 1885.