Elijah Boardman

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

Date: 1789

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 83 x 51 in. (210.8 x 129.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Susan W. Tyler, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.395


Itinerant portrait painter Ralph Earl depicted the elegantly dressed dry-goods merchant Elijah Boardman (1760–1823) in his shop in New Milford, Connecticut. An unconventional setting for a full-length portrait, the work offered Boardman an opportunity to display his vast merchandise. An open door on the left reveals the shopkeeper’s textile inventory, including silks, wools, printed cottons, and linens—several of which he imported from India, China, and Europe through English ports. Although not pictured, Boardman also sold luxury goods from the Spanish West Indies, such as sugar, rum, molasses, and indigo, connecting the patrons of his Connecticut shop to the extensive networks of Atlantic trade.