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  • Patent Politics: Photography in the Patent Office by Mazie M. Harris

Patent Politics: Photography in the Patent Office by Mazie M. Harris

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American photography and United States patent law were developed in tandem. This talk will focus on the photographs and patent examinations produced by Titian Ramsay Peale II. The youngest son of artist and entrepreneur Charles Willson Peale, Titian Peale was examiner in the Fine Arts Division of the United States Patent Office from 1848 to 1872, and a member of one of the earliest amateur photographic societies in the United States. In his professional life, Peale was charged with policing the boundaries of intellectual property that he otherwise breached by sharing ideas and images with fellow amateurs. Special attention will be paid to the controversial patents awarded to James A. Cutting during Peale’s tenure in the Patent Office. Mazie M. Harris is an assistant curator in the J. Paul Getty Museum Department of Photographs. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Brown University. Her research has been supported by the Terra Foundation, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Antiquarian Society, Winterthur Library, National Portrait Gallery, New York Public Library, and Library of Congress. She is the author of Paper Promises: Early American Photography, a publication which accompanied a Spring 2018 exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Presented on March 20, 2021.

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