Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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EARLE, Ralph, artist, born in Leicester, Massachusetts, 11 May 1751; died in Bolton, Connecticut, 16 August 1801. He was a descendant of Ralph Earle, an early settler of Leicester, and his father, Ralph, held a commission as captain in the Revolutionary war. He had no collegiate education, but painted portraits in Connecticut in 1775. Soon after peace was declared he went to England, studied his art under the instruction of Benjamin West, and was elected a member of the Royal academy. He returned to the United States in 1786, and continued to pursue his profession in different parts of Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. Among his works are two portraits of Dr. Dwight (1777); four historical paintings, believed to be the first of that class ever executed by an American artist" The Battle of Lexington," " A View of Concord." " The Battle of North Bridge, Concord," and "A View of the South Part of Lexington." These were engraved and published by Amos Doolittle, of New Haven, Conn.
Mr. Earle also painted portraits in England and America, several landscapes, and a "Niagara Falls," which was exhibited in all parts of the country and subsequently in London.
His brother, James Earle, artist, born in Leicester, Massachusetts, 1 May 1761 ; died in Charleston, South Carolina, 7 September 1798, had no collegiate education, and little is known of his early life. He married Mrs. Caroline Georgiana Pilkington Smyth, mother of Admiral William Henry Smyth. He painted portraits in Charleston, South Carolina, and died suddenly of yellow fever when he was preparing to return to England.
His son, Augustus Earle, artist, born in 1793, was admitted as a student in the Royal academy, London, in 1807, and some of his pictures were in two of the public exhibitions prior to that date. He had an insatiable love of adventure, and was known as the "wandering artist." From 1815 till 1832 he traveled extensively through North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the East Indies. In Madras he painted portraits and executed original drawings, which he afterward arranged for a panorama, and exhibited. His health failing, he returned to England. When in New York, he spent most of his time in the house with Thomas Cummings, the well-known painter of miniatures. He visited all parts of the Mediterranean, traveled in Africa, and finally sailed on a four years' voyage of discovery, from which he never returned. "A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827, together with a Journal of a Residence in Tristan d'Acunha," was published by Augustus Earle, draughtsman to his Majesty's ship "The Beagle" (London, 1832).
Ralph's son, Ralph Earle , artist, died in New Orleans, La., studied in London in 1809'10, and after his return to the United States married a niece of Andrew Jackson, and painted a full length portrait of the general.
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