Titian Ramsay Peale

(American, 1799 - 1885)

The artist naturalist Titian Ramsay Peale was born in Philadelphia, the youngest son of Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), who at the time of his son’s birth was deeply involved with his natural history museum, the first of importance in the United States. Because the Peales collected and mounted specimens for display, they were in close contact with such pioneering natural scientists and artists as Alexander Lawson, George Ord, and Thomas Say in Philadelphia. As early as 1816 young Titian Ramsay Peale was drawing butterflies for Thomas Say's American Entomology. On November 26, 1817, Peale was elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In December 1817, he joined with Ord, Say, and the geologist William Maclure on a scientific collecting expedition to Florida and Georgia, the first of several on which he would serve as artist naturalist. In 1819 20 he was part of the Stephen H. Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains. The watercolors and sketches that Peale and Samuel Seymour (1796-1823) made during this trip are among the earliest visual records of the American West. Married in 1820, Peale lived mostly in Philadelphia between 1821 and 1838, managing the family museum while pursuing his interests in natural history and making collecting trips to Maine, Florida, and South America. In 1832 he issued an illustrated prospectus for a book on butterflies, American Lepidoptera (unpublished) and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. In December 1836 Peale was appointed as a zoologist and naturalist on the United States South Sea Surveying and Exploring Expedition, which began its four-year journey in 1838. From 1843 through 1848 Peale spent most of his time in Washington, D.C., working on the text and drawings for volume 8 of the South Sea Expedition reports, Mammalia and Ornithology. In August 1848 Peale became an assistant examiner in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, where he remained until 1877. During these years he did a number of oil paintings, some based on sketches and drawings made during his many years of exploring. Peale died in Philadelphia.