Friday, September 21, 2018

Mr. Titian Peale and Miss Mary Peale at tea

So the Library of Congress website says this: "Photograph shows Titian Peale, Miss Mary Peale, and another woman (seated on the left) sitting at a table set for tea, with a large silver tea service on the fore-edge of the table; they are in a room with two large windows at the rear with plants growing in pots on the windowsills, there is a small book shelf on a chest of drawers between the windows, along with books there is a small portrait that may be Titian as a younger man, and there is a large painting hanging behind Mary Peale."

Now, have I lost my mind, or is there no woman at left? I see what might have been a body, maybe, but … well, there's no head on it, or else that head is transparent, which is a wee bit creepy.

(Click here if you want to go to the LOC website and see the photo at the largest size.)

I am just flummoxed by this picture. But I am intrigued that Titian Peale, famous naturalist and photographer, was having tea! I still haven't figured out his relationship to Mary Peale, but I'm guessing a sister or niece since she is "Miss." If any of you happen to know, please share!


  1. I don't see the third person, either! But it is still a fascinating picture.

  2. There is a place setting for the third person, and four cups on the tray. Maybe she is in the Ladies!

  3. I think the third lady is a optical illusion.. Her torso looks to be a pillow or something on another round table by the window and the shadows on the chair in the foreground give the illusion of her dress. And perhaps "Miss Peale" is his daughter?? That's my story and I'm sticking to it! LOL!!!!

  4. Not only is she a phantom I think she's on her phone she must be from the future

  5. From Wikipedia:
    Mary Jane Peale (born New York City, February 16, 1827 - died Pottsville, Pennsylvania, November 22, 1902) was an American painter. She was the child of Rubens and Eliza Burd Patterson Peale, the only daughter among seven children, and was the granddaughter of Charles Willson Peale.

  6. That IS a fascinating photo--what an amazing amount of tea things on one table!! I do see the headless "phantom" woman on the left. I'm guessing that her apparent heedlessness might be due to something relating to the developing process of the photo. The Peale family produced many excellent artists and naturalists, and we have paintings by several Peales at museums here in Washington DC. One of my very favorite American paintings is "Rubens Peale with a Geranium," a portrait of naturalist Rubens by his artist brother Raphaelle, which is at the National Gallery of Art. You can see it here: --from Vernona in DC

  7. That is so weird. The (untouched) third place setting is there but no “body”. Cue scary music!

  8. Maybe this is a spooky Halloween photo. Lol

  9. I love the elegance! In our hurried lives today, I wish for these beautiful table settings to return more often. Donna z

  10. Angela, it's a teatime ghost. I'm sure you could write a story about that.

  11. I clicked on your link to see a close up of the original. I can definitely see a head with a face, as if looking downward into her lap. The head SEAMS rather transparent; but I'm sure there is a logical explanation for that.

    1. Thanks Sharon! I clicked the link, and now I totally see her as well!

  12. Strange photo! Love the tea setting, though. Such a big service for just two (three?).

  13. Hmmmm, perhaps she had just left. There is a place setting there, soooooo ...

  14. Following Sharon's lead, I clicked your link and can totally see her. Obviously something happened to the picture which makes this a fun phenomenon. Once I saw her and came back to her post, I can see her there as well. She is looking down at something she is holding as Sharon said. :)

  15. I looked for the other woman and thought maybe she was a ghost. Ha! Glad to see someone else actually saw her.

  16. Here is a link to Mr. Peale on "Find A Grave" which includes a photo of him; clearly the same man.
    It states: Titian Ramsay Peale
    BIRTH 17 Nov 1799
    Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
    DEATH 13 Mar 1885 (aged 85)
    Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
    Laurel Hill Cemetery
    Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
    Artist. Born shortly after the death of his elder half brother, Titian Ramsay, this youngest of Charles Willson Peale's seventeen children was named Titian Ramsay as well. He, like most of his siblings, trained with his father as an artist and naturalist from a young age, and he began collecting and drawing insects as a boy. His drawings were published in American Entomology as early as 1816. He studied anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he made drawings of the specimens in the University's collections. In 1818, he accompanied an expedition to Florida to record the native flora and fauna. He provided illustrations for American Entomology from 1824 to 1828 and for American Ornithology from 1825 to 1833. In 1833, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society. He was regarded as a top field naturalist, an expert taxidermist, and illustrator. On August 18, 1838, he set sail as a member of the South Seas Exploring Expedition as chief naturalist. Peale's expedition report, Mammalia and Ornithology, was initially suppressed due to objections by his colleagues; an altered version was published in 1858. He also assisted his brother Franklin in running the Philadelphia Museum, and became a pioneer in the art of photography. He became an Assistant Examiner at the Patent Office where he worked for almost 25 years. He wrote and illustrated a catalog of Lepidoptera of the New World, The Butterflies of North America, though it was never published. The manuscript is in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
    MARRIAGE RECORDS ON ANCESTRY.COM INDICATE he was married to Lucinda McMullen Saturday 8/24/1850.
    Here is an unusual record:
    Name: Titian R. Peale
    Nature of Claim: Indemnity for losses sustained by the wreck of the United States ship Peacock, and for arrears of salary
    Congress: 31
    Session: 1
    Manner Brought: Petition
    Journal Page: 192
    Referred to Committee: Naval Affairs

    BEAUTIFUL PORTRAIT OF HIM AS A YOUNG MAN which was painted by his father, Charles or his brother Charles:

    He had two wives. Lucinda as noted above who died in 1887, and then Eliza Cecila La Forgue. Their children were Sybilla Mirian and Francis Titian.

    He did have a half sibling named Margaret Boadley Peale. Perhaps she went by Mary?

    I LOVE genealogy. Anyway, some fun and interesting stuff for those who are members and want to dive deeper. Thanks for sharing this interesting post!!! ~Heather


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