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Thomas Birch was a versatile painter and printmaker who specialized in landscapes. With the assistance of his father, William Birch, Birch did engravings of the Delaware Valley, signing "Wm. Birch and Son." Thomas Birch painted watercolors of historic buildings and, in his later years, seascapes and naval scenes from the War of 1812. Birch's oil paintings of land and water are visibly atmospheric, done in a style of romantic realism influenced by the Dutch tradition. A landscape painter, he led the Hudson River School. He instructed James Hamilton, George R. Bonfield, and Thomas Cole in painting. Birch painted portraits of Commodore Silas Talbot, Captain Benjamin Crownsfield, and Edmund Dean. He also designed coins for the United States Mint and helped found the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Born in England, Birch moved to America in 1784.
John Neagle (1796-1865), The Studious Artist (Thomas Birch), 1836. Oil on canvas. 30 1/8 x 25 1/16. Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift of John Frederick.
Education and Training
Studied with his father, William Russell Birch
Teachers and Influences
William Russel Birch, John Wesley Jarvis, Samuel Seymour, Thomas Sully, Vernet
Connection to Bucks County
Thomas Birch lived with his father, William Russel Birch, at Springland, near Bristol, in Bucks County. He often painted Bucks County scenery.
William Russel Birch
Professional and Teaching Appointments
Honorary member, The National Academy, New York
Curator (Keeper), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1812-1816
Academician, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1812
Served on many committees at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia