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Charles Paxton Butler

Earl, James
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
oil on canvas
HOA: 25 7/8; WOA: 21 7/8
Accession Number:
SITTER: Charles Paxton Butler (1765-1858) was a Charleston, South Carolina silversmith. Born in Boston, he came to Charleston when he was twenty-five and is listed as a silversmith in the 1790 city directory. Though he was listed in the city directory as a silversmith until 1829, at the present time only a single spoon bearing his mark is known. It is in the collection of the Charleston Museum (CM 71.24.7) In 1798, he married Charleston native Ann Poyas.

ARTIST: James Earl (1761-1796) was the younger brother of the New England artist Ralph Earl. Following the American Revolution Earl traveled to London where he studied and exhibited at the Royal Academy. In London Earl cultivated a following among the American loyalist community there. Earl remained in London until 1794 when he set sail for Charleston, South Carolina. His death two years later cut short a promising career. His obituary in the South Carolina State Gazette read, in part: “This gentleman has resided nearly two years in this city, in which time he has exhibited so many happy specimens of his art as to enable us to speak with decision of his talents. To an uncommon facility in hitting off the likeness, may be added a peculiarity in his execution of drapery, and, which has ever been esteemed in his art the ne plus ultra, of giving life to the eye and expression to every feature.”

REFERENCES: Worcester Art Museum, “James Earl” in Early American Paintings in the Worcester Art Museum.

DESCRIPTION: Painting, oil on canvas, of a man facing half-left. The work is a half-length portrait. The subject has gray hair, dark gray eyes, wears a dark brown coat with a high turned-down collar, a yellow vest, and white stock at the neck.

Credit Line:
Anonymous Gift