Ralph Earl

Ralph Earl (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts May 11, 1751 – Bolton, August 16, 1801) was an American painter who devoted himself chiefly to portraiture, of which at least 183 can be documented. He also painted six landscapes, including a panorama display of Niagara Falls. He also created some historical paintings.

He was born on May 11, 1751 in Worcester County, Massachusetts, by Ralph and Phebe Whittemore Earl, who owned a farm in Leicester (today’s Paxton town). His ancestors were Quakers emigrating from the English town of Exeter to Rhode Island around To 1634

In 1774 he married Sarah Gates, his second-degree cousin, who gave him two sons: Phebe and John Trasferitosi in New Haven tried to emerge as a painter on commission painting portraits, family coats, and everything he was asked for. Pictorial activity made him a discreet fame at local level, in fact at the time of the American Revolution he was commissioned portraits of some Connecticut patriots, the situation was very particular as Earl was considered a loyalist to the British Crown

Earl’s father refused to serve in King Giorgio III’s army and had enlisted as an officer in the continental army, even Ralph avoided British recruitment, risking imprisonment, but at the same time gained the insults of insurgents by refusing to pay Tributes in support of the revolutionary cause In 1776 he was brought to New Haven by his wife but soon was forced to leave the country because of his political positions that attracted the hatred of the followers of the revolution Thanks to John Money’s help, one Of General John Burgoyne’s officers, managed to get rid of Newport in Rhode Island from where he embarked for England

He came to London in 1778 and benefited from the protection of John Money who sought to procure him a job in the British public administration, but Earl’s demands for work were not met and had to earn a living by painting. During his English stay, he recalled many loyalists who , Like him, had fled from the American territory Money received him in his home near Norwich and got him numerous commissions of portraits among his circle of acquaintances During his stay at the Money house he met Ann Whiteside who later became his second wife Although the previous marriage had never been formally canceled. He then moved to Windsor where he kept painting portraits of noble family girls attending the college

In 1785 he returned to America, two years after the formal recognition of the United States by Britain with the Treaty of Paris Discharged in Boston with his second wife, from whom he had two other children, settled in New York where he tried to start A studio in which to create portraits of the city elite but soon had to abandon this project as most of its clients belonged to the small aristocracy of the country Earl’s economic condition deteriorated rapidly so much that he was also incarcerated for debt, for his luck succeeded To avoid long imprisonment thanks to the intervention of some notables of the city who animated by religious spirit became its buyers in an attempt to provide him with economic support, among them there was also Elizabeth Hamilton, patriot wife Alexander Hamilton Earl was released in January 1788 And began to move with his wife and children from various cities to get Commissions and portraits, initially traveled between Connecticut cities, progressively to work in Vermont and Massachusetts

In recent years he started abusing alcohol, his health worsened and alienated the liking of many of his clients, spent the last two years of his life at Dr. Samuel Cooley’s home, died on August 16, 1801 in Bolton, Connecticut Because of the harmful effects of alcoholism Buried in the city cemetery, in 1935 a Connecticut Antiquary was erected a commemorative plaque

His younger brother James Earl (1761-1796), ten years younger, was a painter as well as his second-generation son, Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl, who raised his paternal heritage and became a portraitist in turn Career resumed several times by President Andrew Jackson, whom he married a niece

During the early period of his artistic career, Earl resided in New Haven and worked almost exclusively on commission, of which only a few examples survived. One of the rare paintings from this period is the full-length portrait of Roger Sherman made between 1775 and 1776, today exhibited in the Yale University Art Gallery collection This work already highlighted some of the main aspects of Earl’s portraiture style, in particular the preference for the chiaroscuro effect and attention to the details of the figure represented During his period in New Haven met the painter and engraver Henry Pelham

During the early period of his artistic career, Earl resided in New Haven and worked almost exclusively on commission, of which only a few examples survived. One of the rare paintings from this period is the full-length portrait of Roger Sherman made between 1775 and 1775 1776, today exhibited in the Yale University Art Gallery collection This work already highlighted some of the main aspects of Earl’s portraiture style, in particular the preference for the chiaroscuro effect and attention to the details of the figure represented During his period in New Haven met the painter and engraver Henry Pelham through which he also became acquainted with John Singleton Copley remaining influenced by the style of both of these artists At the time of the Revolution Earl also distinguished himself for creating some preparatory drawings for propaganda engravings, in particular He was the author of images about the battle Of Lexington e
Concord then engraved and printed by Amos Doolittle in 1775

The second period of his artistic life coincided with his stay in British land, during his English stay, perfected his pictorial art at Benjamin West’s studio and exhibited some portraits of the Royal Academy’s exhibitions of 1783 and 1784. Influenced during this time was George Romney, according to Earl’s art historians developed thanks to the influence of these two artists greater figurative capacity and improved in shaping the shapes

His third artistic period coincided with the return to American soil, during his detention Earl’s pictorial style developed further, particularly the artist began to take great care in realizing the background behind the portraying subjects. In recent years, in addition to Usual portraiture production, painted many landscapes in Connecticut, this new source of inspiration was also reflected in its figurative production, in fact it has increasingly become the main figure in the foreground with respect to detailed views