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    Andrew Jackson: An Important Original Oil Portrait by Ralph E. W. Earl. Earl was closely associated with Jackson, and he was the most prolific painter of Jackson portraits during the President's life. This is a small original oil on paper housed in what is almost certainly its original birdseye maple frame. It is an expressive portrait, perhaps even conveying a sense of arrogance, showing Jackson in his general's uniform. It is signed in the right field "Ralph E. W. Earl after S. L. Waldo". The latter refers to Samuel Lovett Waldo. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns an 1819 Waldo portrait of Jackson that is markedly similar to Earl's in the depiction of Jackson's face. Earl however has greatly changed the depiction from the neck down, adding a cloak draped around Jackson's uniform.

    Earl's image of Jackson was quite favorably received, and he painted additional versions during the 1830s, each varying slightly. In this regard the work is reminiscent of the iconic "Spirit of '76" painting by Archibald Willard. The original was painted for the 1876 Centennial, but proved so popular the Willard created perhaps twenty similar versions over the next decade. Heritage sold another of these Earl portraits of Jackson in our February 2007 Americana auction, where it brought $15,535. At first glance the two works appear identical. However, careful examination discloses several differences. Most notably, the present example is signed in full whereas the one sold previously was simply signed with Earl's and Waldo's initials. The cloud formations in the background also differ in the two works, and the gold decoration on Jackson's collar is more evident in the present example. Both are framed similarly in their original birdseye maple frames of the type favored by Earl; however, the gold leafed border around the portrait is more elaborate in this present example.

    Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl was born around 1788 in New York City. He was the son of a well-known portrait painter from the revolutionary period, Ralph Earl, who quite probably instructed his son in the art of portraiture. By 1804, his skills had developed to an astonishing level for such a young man, as he then painted a family portrait of sufficient quality to merit display at the National Gallery, Washington D.C. His technique became even more sophisticated after he traveled to London in 1809 to study with John Trumbull and Benjamin West. Further studies in Paris (1814-1815) allowed him to examine the master works of the Louvre. When he returned to the United States, his first project was to travel through the South, painting portraits and attempting a never-finished monumental depiction of the Battle of New Orleans. It was on this trip that he became acquainted with Andrew Jackson, the "Hero of New Orleans". In 1817, Earl visited Jackson's Tennessee home, The Hermitage, where he painted his earliest images of Jackson. He married Jackson's niece, Jane Caffery in 1819. Although she died tragically in childbirth the following year, Earl remained close to Jackson, and after the general's wife died in 1828 he moved into the Hermitage and became Jackson's closest companion. He died there in 1838. In addition to the National Gallery, Earl's paintings may be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Earl portraits have sold in recent years for a wide range of prices, the highest being the 2006 sale of a pair of large portraits at a major New York auction gallery for $60,000. The present painting and frame are in beautiful condition. The portrait itself measures 2.75" x 3.25" while the overall framed dimensions are 8.25" x 9.25". A portrait of Jackson by Earl currently hangs in a prominent spot in the White House Oval Office.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2021
    27th-28th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 693

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