Artist: Ralph Earl (American, Worcester County, Massachusetts 1751–1801 Bolton, Connecticut)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 83 x 51 in. (210.8 x 129.5 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of Susan W. Tyler, 1979
Accession Number: 1979.395
Earl portrayed the richly dressed dry-goods merchant Elijah Boardman (1760–1823) in his store in New Milford, Connecticut. His right hand rests on a counting desk protected by green cloth secured with brass nails. The books on the shelves include the three-volume set of Dr. John Moore's Travels, two volumes of Shakespeare's plays, John Milton's Paradise Lost, a volume of Samuel Johnson's dictionary, and the London Magazine for 1786. Through the open paneled door to the right, bolts of plain and patterned textiles, including one with a prominently displayed British tax stamp, invite inspection and tell the viewer how Boardman earned a living, just as the books in his desk and the letter in his hand speak of his learning and cultivation.