Terra Foundation for American Art postdoctoral Fellow Lecture



Titian Peale’s Butterfly Projects and the Book of Nature: Presentation and Representation

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

decorated book-style case containing butterfly collection
Titian Ramsay Peale, Lepidoptera Box 7, after July 1874. The Titian R. Peale Butterfly and Moth Collection, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Speaker(s): Dr Ellery Foutch (Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral Fellow, The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Caroline Arscott

Throughout his life, Titian Ramsay Peale (1799-1885) was obsessed with butterflies, ultimately creating thousands of drawings, lithographs, oil paintings, and over a hundred butterfly boxes bound in leather and marbled paper, their specimens preserved between panes of glass. In his writings and artistic enterprises, Peale’s work reveals anxieties about the limits of human representation and textual description, as the artist-naturalist sought new ways to portray the complexities of nature and God’s creation. This talk will examine period debates about representation and mediation as well as the transformation of ‘nature’ into aesthetic objects, issues that are central to contemporary concerns about perfection and temporality.




Ellery Foutch is the Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at The Courtauld Institute of Art. She received her PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania with a dissertation entitled “Arresting Beauty: The Perfectionist Impulse of Peale’s Butterflies, Heade’s Hummingbirds, Blaschka’s Flowers, and Sandow’s Body”. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Wyeth Foundation, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and American Council of Learned Societies. She earned her MA from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and her BA in Art History from Wellesley College. She is currently working on a book manuscript focused on nineteenth-century ideas about perfection and its preservation. This fall, she will begin a position as Assistant Professor of American Studies at Middlebury College, Vermont.

This fellowship and lecture have been made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art in collaboration with The Courtauld Institute of Art. For further information about the Terra Foundation for American Art and this initiative see www.terraamericanart.org


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