Positively Philadelphia: New Art Exhibit Looks At 18th Century Philadelphia

Lauren Lipton
May 13, 2018 - 3:00 am
William Birch Gallery

Library Company of Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The Library Company of Philadelphia at 1314 Locust Street is a very special place with a new, very special exhibit, "William Birch, Ingenious Artist."

"When people ask me about William Birch and who he was, I'll tell people to close their eyes and think about what Philadelphia looked like in the 18th century," said Library Company director Dr. Michael Barsanti. "That picture in your mind is probably a William Birch picture." 

William Birch Exhibit
Library Company of Philadelphia

Barsanti says Birch came to Philadelphia from England to establish himself as an artist. 

"One of his first works when he came here was to create a viewbook of Philadelphia that is sort of a love letter to the city," he explained.

Curator Jim Green says he was already famous for his enamel work with miniatures in England. 

"He would take a giant print that was an engraving about two feet wide, which was copied from a painting that was probably about eight feet wide and he reduced it to an enamel that was about three inches wide," Green said. "People paid a lot of money for them at the time and we have some of them at the exhibit. " 

William Birch Exhibit
Library Company of Philadelphia

Curator Sarah Weatherwax says you will see things in this exhibit that you have never seen before. 

"We probably have the best institutional collection of Birch material in existence," Weatherwax said.

And some of the exhibit items came from other private and public collections.  

William Bitch Exhibit
Library Company of Philadelphia

For more information, visit the Library Company's website

The exhibit runs through October.