Ralph Earl, Recorder for an Era

By Laurence B. Goodrich

Hardcover : 9780873950206, 96 pages, June 1967

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Here at long last is the study of the life and paintings of Ralph Earl, the colorful eighteenth-century American artist whose pictures hang in the great galleries but about whom relatively little has appeared in print. A pioneer landscapist in a day when portraiture was the vogue, a Tory in Revolutionary New England, he nevertheless captured the stance and spirit of the new nation in the first decades after the Revolution. He portrayed the merchants and civic leaders of the time, often with their families, in their homes, orchards, business establishments—and the result is a record of post-Revolutionary American dress, design, and decoration as well as face and figure.

Professor Goodrich has tracked down and assembled forty-one of Earl's paintings for this book, providing the first opportunity of viewing the artist's work as a body. The pictures range from a youthful re-creation of the Battle of Concord, through portraits done in England (whence he fled during the Revolution and which enabled him to absorb the techniques of the great eighteenth-century English portraitists), to his invaluable paintings of General von Steuben, Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, and other figures in the young United States.

Laurence B. Goodrich is a professor in the State University College at Oneonta, New York. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Minnesota and Washington State University, where he was awarded Phi Beta Kappa, and earned his doctorate at Columbia University. Research on neglected American artists has been a long-time hobby of Professor Goodrich. Antiques, New York History, and Art in America have published his articles on Earl, Randall Palmer, and Frederick R. Spencer. Search for data for the present volume took him abroad, where several previously unidentified Earl portraits were located.