Elijah Boardman (1760–1823)

Ralph Earl (American, Worcester County, Massachusetts 1751–1801 Bolton, Connecticut)

Oil on canvas
83 x 51 in. (210.8 x 129.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Susan W. Tyler, 1979
Accession Number:
  • Description

    In this extraordinary American portrait, the shopkeeper Elijah Boardman proudly displays the stock of textiles sold in his dry-goods store. Boardman advertised the store as a source for luxurious imported textiles from all over the world, and some are readily identifiable in the painting.

    Beneath the top shelf bearing spools of silk ribbon is a bolt of red spotted Indian bandanna silk meant to be cut into handkerchiefs. On the shelves below are silks from China, both pink and blue taffetas and white gauzes, and a floral cotton chintz very similar to the white chintz dress on view in the exhibition. On the lowest shelf sit English woolens, with one bolt open to display an English excise tax mark, assuring the viewer of the origins and assumed high quality of Boardman's goods.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: [at lower left]: R. Earl pinxt 1789

  • Provenance

    By descent, Cornelius Boardman Tyler, Plainfield, New Jersey, died 1955; Mrs. Cornelius Boardman (Susan W.) Tyler, Fairfield, New Jersey, died 1979