American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Ralph Earl, American, 1751–1801

Roger Sherman (1721–1793, M.A. [Hon.] 1768)

ca. 1775

Oil on canvas

64 5/8 × 49 5/8 in. (164.1 × 126 cm)
Gift of Roger Sherman White, B.A. 1859, LL.B. 1862
Connecticut statesman Roger Sherman here faces down the curious gaze of posterity with an uncompromising stare. Founding Father John Adams called him “one of the soundest and strongest pillars of the Revolution even if his air is the reverse of grace.” A passionate patriot, Sherman was the only man to sign all four of the early nation’s key governmental documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. Sitting in a Windsor armchair, wearing a simple muslin cravat and an old-fashioned homespun suit, his awkward pose and plain clothing signal his unambiguous rejection of continental elegance and, by extension, European values.
Made in New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Not on view
18th century

Roger Sherman (1721–1793), New Haven, Conn.; by descent to Roger Sherman White (1837–1924), New Haven, Conn.; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1918


Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 2, 64, 107, no. 49, ill.

Mark David Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), n.p., cover ill., ill.

Arthur S. Lefkowitz, Eyewitness Images from the American Revolution (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2017), 51, ill.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.