The Hubbell Children

Ralph Earl American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 732

In this portrait by Ralph Earl, the artist portrays two young children, David Hubbell (1778-1806) and his sister Sarah Hubbell (b. 1781), the children of David and Sarah Hubbell, of Greenfield Hills (now Fairfield), Connecticut. With John Singleton Copley’s American portraits as his early inspiration, Earl spent seven years in England during the war years, where he developed a formal British portrait style. Upon his return to the United States in 1785, Earl spent three years in debtor’s prison in lower Manhattan. Upon his release in January, 1788, he was placed under the guardianship of Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell, who was from a distinguished Connecticut family. He introduced Earl to the state’s leading families, where the artist received portrait and landscape commissions for the next decade.

In the post-Revolutionary War era, Earl furthered the formation of a national imagery by portraying a segment of American society that had not yet received the attention of a trained and talented artist. Earl succeeded in fashioning a new portrait style that met the needs of his rural, middle class, pietistic Connecticut patrons by simplifying his London portrait style to suit their more provincial aesthetic sensibilities and surroundings. The portrait of David and Sarah Hubbell is an excellent and early example of this style. The artist’s more simplified technique is seen here in the broad brush strokes and brighter color palette, with the inclusion of a local Connecticut landscape setting. Earl created an intimate informal portrayal of affection between the two siblings.

No image available

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.