Ralph Earl (American, 1751-1801)
oil on canvas, Framed - h:139.40 w:108.60 d:5.20 cm (h:54 7/8 w:42 3/4 d:2 inches)
Unframed - h:120.70 w:90.20 cm (h:47 1/2 w:35 1/2 inches). Gift of Mrs. George S. Lockwood, Jr. in loving memory of her husband 2003.285
At the age of fifteen, Moses Seymour Jr., sat for a portrait that honors both its sitter and implicitly, his father, the former Revolutionary War major from Litchfield, Connecticut, who commissioned this work. Like so many American painters of his generation, Earl studied with Benjamin West in London. Upon his return, he practiced his profession in his native Connecticut River Valley. Seymour's book and cane suggest that the young man reads and walks in harmony among nature's beauties, an activity that recalls the ideals of the ancient Roman poet Horace. In a pose that presses him close to the foreground, however, this cultured figure also conveys a message about man's domination over nature.
The painting remained in the sitter's family until it was given to the museum.