William Birch (painter)
Birch was born in Warwickshire, the son of Anne, née Russell, and physician Thomas Birch. He spent his early childhood in Warwick and was apprenticed to a jeweler, Thomas Jeffreys, and to Sir Joshua Reynolds. The enamelist Henry Spicer trained Birch in the art of enamel painting. Birch exhibited enamel portraits at the Royal Academy from 1781 to 1794. In 1785, he received a medal from the Royal Society of Arts. As an engraver he is best known in England for his Délices de la Grande Bretagne, consisting of thirty-six plates of ancient buildings in Norwich and elsewhere, published in 1791.
After emigrating to Philadelphia in 1794 he made portrait enamels of many people including copies of portraits of George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart. The engraving series he made in 1800 of Philadelphia vistas was so extremely popular it resulted in three additional editions. William Birch was the father of Thomas Birch, an American portrait and marine painter. His typescript autobiography is held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He died in Philadelphia, aged 79.
- The City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America. Philadelphia, 1800
- The Country Seats of the United States, 1808
- "The life and anecdotes of William Russell Birch, enamel painter". Smithsonian: Archives of American Art. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Grant Wingate, Zenobia. "William Birch Biography". Caldwell Gallery. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
- Radford, Ernest (1886). Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. . In
- Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, Biographical and Critical (Volume I: A-K). 1886. p. 130.
- Emily Tyson Cooperman (1999). "William Russell Birch (1755–1834) and the beginnings of the American picturesque". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- "HSP Manuscript Guide: 1500-1599". Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Emily T. Cooperman & Lea Carson Sherk, William Birch: Picturing the American Scene (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). The first biography of William Birch, it contains an edited version of his autobiography.
- William Russell Birch subscription lists, 1798-1802 (Smithsonian: Archives of American Art)
- William Russell Birch and Thomas Birch (ushistory.org)
- Search results for 'William Russell Birch' (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
- The Country Seats of the United States (University of Pennsylvania Press)
- American paintings & historical prints from the Middendorf collection, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Birch (no. 11 & 70)
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