American ex-patriot Ralph Earl painted William Carpeter, an English boy, in 1779. The painting is in the collection of the Worcester Art Museum. Willian has a bright red suit. His hair in the front is done in bangs rather than combed back like some of the boys at mid-century. We note some other portraits showing this or a smililar style. We are not sure, however, just how common it was. Nor or we entirely sure if this was a juveile style. Willian's hair is done in loose curls at the back to shoulder length, but can not be seen well at the back. The most notable aspect of his clithing is the bright red suit. We have seen younger boys wearing red suits at the time, but William is an older boy, about 12 years old when his portrait was painted. We are not sure about the conventions. We do not think adult men commonly wore bright red suits. How common it was for school-age boys like William we are not sure. The suit is three-pieces and all (the jacket, vest-waistcoat, and knee breeches) are the same bright red material. He wears his suit with an open-collar blouse.
The artist who painted the portait here was Ralph Earl. The painting is in the collection of the Worcester Art Museum. Earl was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts (1751). He was an early American colonial artist who had just begun to work in New Haven, Connecticut when the Revolutionary War broke out. And unfortunately for Earl, he had Loyalist sympathies. According to Captain John Money, General Burgoyne's quatermaster, Earl provided military intelligence to the British. This essentially made him a spy and he had ton flee Connecticut. Captain Money assisted him. The Colonists at the time were gaining control of most of the northern colonies. Earlleft America as General Burgoyne's doomed army was prepating to move south from Canada. He arrived in England (April 1778). Earl was assisted by Captain John Money, Burgoyne's quatermaster. Earl's work in Norfolk suggests a continuing association with Money whose home (Trowse Hall) was near Norwich. Earl tried to support himself by painting in England. This proved difficult. Earl would have been considered an especially accomplished artist in America, but i England where were higher standards this was not the case. This is not to say Earl was not a competent artist. But he was not a leading artist as would have been the case in America. Earl had to petition the Crown for assistance, using a letter from Money attesting to his loyalty and service during the fighting around Long Island. The portraits of the Caroenter children are commissions that he did get. He painted both William here (figure 1) and his sister Mary Ann. These portraits seem to be among the first Earl painted in England. Earl’s lack of academic training is displayed in the awkward construction of the table. The front corner of the table should be higher or the back corner lower to create flat, rectangular surface for the painting. Earl did not succeed in getting a stipend from the Crown. Money helped him gain commissuons. Earl did 24 known works while in England. His paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy (1783-85). Art historians believe that Earl's technique improved while in England. The War ended (1783). Earl felt it was safe enough to return (1785).
William's hand is on a book which has been opened on a folding table. A book was a common prop for a boy, less so for girls whose education was considered less important. Earl did a companion piece to the portrait of William, a portrait of William's sister Mary Ann. The portrait of William is done in a rather spartan setting. Mary Ann is depicted in a more comfortable, decorated setting. Presumably this was sone to emophasize gender.
Earl painted William in 1779. At the time the American Revolutionary War was waging, but this had little impact on English lives. It was a decde before the French Revolution which would have a major impact. The American Revolution did, of course have an impact on the artist.
The Carpenter family lived in Aldeby. This was a small town near Norwich in Norfolk, East Anglia. This was a provincial community, somewhat removed from the high fashion of London.
William was born in 1767. The portait here was painted in 1779. He would have been about 12 years old when Earl painted him. William had a sister, Mary Ann. They were both named after their parents, William and Mary Carpenter. (Another siurse gives the wife's name as Louisa. William's father was described as a "yeoman" when the children were young. He seems to have been successful because at his death he is described as "Gent[leman]". WE DO not know a greaT DEAL about the family. The way William is dressed and the fact the family could afford twin portraits suggest that their father was a man of modest means who had achieved some success in life, at least in provincial terms. The Carpenters raised eight children at their home--Toft Monks. We know nothing about their son William other than the portrait here.
Willian has a bright red suit. The most notable aspect of his clithing is the bright red suit. We have seen younger boys wearing red suits at the time, but Willian is an older boy, about 12 years old. We are not sure about the conventions. We do not think adult men commonly wore bright red suits. How common it was for school-age boys like William we are not sure. The suit is three-pieces and all (the jacket, vest-waistcoat, and knee breeches) are the same bright red material. The garments are gold-colored (presumably brass) buttons decorated with a circle at the center and a radial pattern, perhaps a sunburst. He wears his suitr with an open-collar blouse. The white blouse has a lace-edged rounded collar and ruffled cuffs. The suit except for the color might be worn by an adult. I'm less sure about the blouse, especially the open collar. William wears white stockings with his knee breeches and black leather buckle shoes. We don't know much about buckle shoes, but believe the bucle was more decorative than practical. The suit seems fairly standard for the day stylistically. I'm not sure about how common the color was for a boy William's age.
William's hair in the front is done in bangs rather than combed back like some of the boys at mid-century. We note some other portraits showing this or a smililar style. We are not sure, however, just how common it was. Nor or we entirely sure if this was a juveile style. Our collection of 18th century images is still rather limited. Willian's hair is done in loose curls at the back to shoulder length, but can not be seen well at the back.
There are wisps over his ears
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