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The Green Tree: Highlights from the Collection of the Mutual Assurance Company of Philadelphia - April 2007
 
 
painting
 
William Russell Birch
(1755–1834)
High Street, with the First Presbyterian Church, Taken down in 1820, Philadelphia
Engraving, restrike, 8 1/4 × 11 1/4 inches
Inscribed (in plate): “Designed & Engraved by William Birch Enamel Painter. 1806.”
Published by John McAllister, Jr., 1860
References: Garvan and Wojtowicz 1977, 42.
RS 6255


This urban view of Philadelphia was made by the miniaturist, enamel painter, engraver, and etcher William Russell Birch for his famous book The City of Philadelphia, in the State of North America, as it Appeared in the Year 1800 (Philadelphia: W. Birch, 1799). Born in Warwickshire, England, Birch immigrated to the United States in 1794 and settled in Philadelphia, which was then the national capital and center of American commerce and culture. Birch began working on the series of twenty-seven engravings in 1798, assisted by his son the future marine and landscape painter Thomas Birch (1779–1851) and the engraver Samuel Seymour (c. 1775–c. 1832), to coincide with the centennial of the city’s charter in 1801. The result was a topographically accurate representation of Philadelphia’s buildings and monuments, and a vibrant record of daily life in the city.1

Note

1. For full discussions of Birch’s views of Philadelphia, see Martin P. Snyder, “William Birch: His Philadelphia Views,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 73 (1949): 271–315; and “Birch’s Philadelphia Views: New Discoveries,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 88 (1964): 164–173. See also S. Robert Teitelman, Birch’s Views of Philadelphia with Photographs of the Sites in 1960 and 2000 (Philadelphia: Free Library of Philadelphia, 2000).


  


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