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Maker(s):Earl, Ralph
Culture:American (1751-1801)
Title:Dr. Ebenezer Hunt
Date Made:1799
Materials:oil, canvas, wood
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Northampton
Measurements:framed: 45 3/8 x 36 1/4 x 1 in.; 115.2525 x 92.075 x 2.54 cm
Accession Number:  HD 67.160.1
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Oil portrait of Dr. Ebenezer Hunt (1744-1820), a Northampton physician and apothecary, which is signed and dated on the lower left, "R. Earl Pinxt 1799" for Ralph Earl (1751-1801). The portrait of Dr. Hunt was taken to Michigan in the 1800's and descended in the Hunt family until returned to the New England to the doctor's great-great-great grandsons, Moreau C. Hunt, a master at Deerfield Academy, and his brother, Woolsey Hunt, Jr. Dr. Hunt's name occurs frequently in the daybooks and other documents of Deerfield doctors, such as the day books of Dr. William Stoddard Williams (1762-1829) who bought medicines from him and the diary of Elihu Ashley (1750-1817). In 1768, Dr. Hunt opened his apothecary on "Shop Row" on the south side of Main Street in Northampton, which stocked "all of the London propietary remedies, simples, and "Surgeon's Pocket Instruments, Crown and Country Lancets, with cases, Syringes, Trocars, Grain Scales and Weights, a complete Case of amputing Instruments &c., Likewise Cloves, Mace, Salt Petre, Verdigrease, &c." He also travelled to see patients up to twenty miles out of town. Dr. Hunt's biography, which appeared in the "American Medical Biography, 1828, was probably written by Dr. Stephen West Williams (1790-1855), the son of Williams Stoddard Williams, and quoted in the "Centennial Hampshire Gazette" of Northampton in 1828. Dr. Hunt is shown seated, his body facing right and his head looking at the viewer, wearing a white cravat and beige waistcoat, with his left hand on his crossed legs and his right hand next to the medical instruments on the table and leather-bound books on the shelves, in front of a drawn, dark maroon curtain. Born in Massachusetts, Ralph Earl was an itinerant artist who painted at least 183 portraits and 6 landscapes, including a panorama of Niagara Falls. Earl initially worked in Connecticut, but his loyalist sympathies necessitated his moving to London in 1778 where he studied with Benjamin West (1738-1820). In 1785, Ralph returned to America, first to Boston and then NYC where he set up a studio. However, after a series of lawsuits, he was incarcerated in debtors’ prison from September 1786 to January 1788 where he continued to paint portraits. Upon release, Earl returned to Connecticut where he made a career as an itinerant artist painting the likenesses of New England’s rural elite over the next 10 years.

Label Text:
Doctor Hunt (1744-1820), a renowned local physician and apothecary, sits comfortably surrounded by the emblems of his livelihood: medical instruments and books. His powdered hair, fashionable silk clothing, and silver knee buckle also demonstrate his financial success and refinement. Born in Massachusetts, artist Ralph Earl initially worked in Connecticut, but his loyalist sympathies necessitated his moving to London in 1778 where he studied with Benjamin West (1738-1820). In 1785, Earl returned to America where he made a career as an itinerant portraitist painting likenesses of New England’s rural elite.

medicine; portraits; clothing

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