Ralph Earl is an important American portratist. He is one of the most gifted artists of the early American republic, even though he was in fact a Loyalist. Early straightforward portaits are much more nuanced than the prolific naive artists of the day. He also did landscapes but his portraits are his most notable works.His realistic depictions of clothibg are especially interesting to HBC. Earl and his brother and son provide wonderful images of important Americans and American families in the period following the Revolution. His son extended his father's post-Revolutionary work into the Jacksonian era.
Ralf Earl is an important American portratist, providing wonderful images of important Americans and American families in the period following the Revolution. His career is centered on Connecticut. He also did landscapes and Revolutionary War depictions but his portraits are his most notable works. His work is much more nuanced than the naive art more common in America at the time. His striaghtforward portrits are seen as "very American". Earle was born in Massachusetts. Earle was a young man when the Revolution broke out. He was a Loyalist, siding with the British. As a result, with his life in danger he fled to Britain. An early portrait commissioned there was of 12-year old William Carpenter. Earl while in England dramatically improved his artistic skills. After the Revolution he returned to America and was promptly jailed for debts. He managed to gain his freedom by painting portraits of important officials. He then went to Connecticut to restart his career. He was both a gifted artist and competent businessmen. His personal life, however, was much less successful. His realistic portaits were very well received by his clients. His portraits include very detailed depictions of clothing. We note some portraits of his portraits being attributed to his son Ralph E. W. Earl. His son was also an important early American portraitist. His work combined with that of his son (Ralph E.W. Earl) provide some of the most important images of important families in the earliest period of the American nation. The portrait of Mrs William Mosley and her sin Charles here is a good example. Charles wears a classic , bright red skeleton suit, a clear illustration of how European fashions dominated American fashions at the time, at least that of the European elite.
The work of Ralph Earl began with the years leading up to the Revolution and America after the Revolution. There are also some paintings depicting War scenes. Earl's paintings after he returned to America provide wonderful individual and family views of the early American Republic
Ralph E. W. Earl was another important early American portraitist. He was the son of Connecticut portratist Ralph Earl. His mother was his father's second wife, Anne Whiteside from Norwich, England. His father was American, but Ralph was born in England where his father had fled during the Revolution. Ralph first studied art under his father's tuteage in Northhampton, Massachusetts. As a young man, Earl went to London to develop his artistic skills (1809). He studied under both Benjamin West and John Trumbull. He then went to Norwich and lived there 4 years with his grandfather and uncle. Then he went to Paris and was exposed not only to French masterpices, but the work of great artist that Napoleon had brought back to Paris after his victories. Finally Earl returned to America (1816). He obtained a prestigious commission. He went to Nashville to paint the portrait of Andrew Jackson (1817). Jackson had made a name for himself in the Indian Wars, but became a great national hero with his victory over the British at New Orleans (1815). Much of his subsequent career is associated with Jackson. Earl married Rachel Jackson's niece, Jane Caffrey (1817), although she died the following year. Even so Earl moved into the Hermitage and was a member of Jackson's innercircle. He became the director of the Nashville Museum (1818-27). During this period he was also an active portratist. Earl followed Jackson to Washington (1829). He painted many portraits of Jackson of uneven quality. Hangers on saw it as poltique to order such a portrait. Earl also painted portaits of important figures of the day, mostly Jackson supporters. Earl returned to the Hermitage with Jackson (1837) and died the following year.
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