(American born England, 1779 - 1851)
Thomas Birch, son of the well known artist William Birch (1755-1834), was one of early America's foremost marine artists and the founder of the Philadelphia tradition of marine painting. He was born in England and came to the United States with his family when he was fifteen. He learned the technical skills of engraving from his father, and in 1799-1800 they published their widely known series of Philadelphia views. Birch studied his father's art collection, which included marine works by Dutch artists such as the Van Ruisdaels and Jan Van Goyen (1596-1656) and by the French artist Claude Joseph Vernet (1714-1789). It was, however, after a trip to the Delaware capes in 1805 that he became a serious marine artist. In the History of American Marine Paintings ([Boston: The Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, 1968], p. 103), John Wilmerding suggests that while Birch was aware of the English school, his style more truly reflects the old Dutch and French marine traditions. Although his works are predominantly topographical views of the Philadelphia area, his oeuvre includes scenes of the mid Atlantic and New England coastal regions as well.