Earle, Ralph

Earle or Earl, Ralph, 1751–1801, American portrait and landscape painter, b. Worcester co., Mass. He is purported to have painted four scenes of the battle of Lexington as an eyewitness, but is best known for his portraits, which may be seen in the museums of Chicago, New York City, Worcester, Mass., and Yale Univ. Earle studied with Benjamin West in London, to the detriment of his previously uncluttered style. His later work shows the influence of Copley. Much of his work is characterized by a monumental gravity and directness, best exemplified by his powerful portrait of Roger Sherman (c.1775 Yale Univ.). The unevenness in his painting is sometimes attributed to his fondness for drink, which finally killed him.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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