The son of presidential portraitist Charles Willson Peale and younger brother of still life painter Raphaelle and portraitist Rembrandt, Titian Ramsay Peale was born to be an artist. His father was not only a skilled painter but also an innovator in the field of natural science, organizing the first American scientific expedition to excavate fossils and creating the first natural history museum to adopt Linnaean taxonomy. Titian assisted on many of the specimen-finding excursions for the museum, and his fascination with nature quickly found a way into his art.
In 1833, Titian Ramsay Peale published a "Prospectus" for a book of 100 plates and descriptions to be entitled Lepidoptera Americana: Original Figures of the Moths and Butterflies of North America. In his later years, after retiring and returning to Philadelphia in 1873, he finally returned to this work and compiled The Butterflies of North America. Although this naturalist portfolio with hundreds of illustrations was never published due to high costs, the present work is likely related to the project, and its extreme attention to detail reflects Peale's lifelong fascination with accurately depicting his specimens.