Peale, Titian Ramsay 1799-1885

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Exist Dates

1799 - 1885

Biographical or Historical Note


Titian Ramsay Peale II (1799–1885) was an American artist and naturalist from a well-known Philadelphia family. His father, historian and painter Charles Willson Peale, founded the Philadelphia Museum. He also named three other sons for famous painters: Rembrandt, Rubens, and Raphaelle. True to his namesake, Titian Peale was a Renaissance man—a painter, naturalist, butterfly collector, explorer, hunter, and early photographer. He painted his first professional commission—plates to attract subscribers to Thomas Say’s American Entomology—at age 16. The next year he was elected to full membership in the newly founded Academy of Natural Sciences. As an adult, Peale was dogged by hardship, including the early death of his first wife and children and persistent financial difficulties. But Peale never gave up on his masterwork, Butterflies of North America, preparing a prospectus in 1833 and continuing to work on it until his death in 1885. A family member donated the manuscript to the Museum in 1916. After nearly a century in the archives, this masterpiece is finally emerging from its cocoon. Peale was especially fascinated by the life cycle of butterflies, composing painted portraits of a species with its preferred food and at every developmental stage. (source: AMNH website 2015)


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American Museum of Natural History

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