American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Jonathan Budington, American, 1779–1823
Subject: George Eliot, American, 1767–1828
Subject: Patience Lane Eliot, American, died 1852
Subject: Ely Augustus Eliot, American, 1791–1871

Portrait of George Eliot and Family

probably 1798

Oil on canvas

44 5/8 × 55 7/8 × 1 in. (113.3 × 141.9 × 2.5 cm) framed: 54 1/4 × 65 3/8 × 3 in. (137.8 × 166.1 × 7.6 cm)
Gift of the descendants of Reverend Jared Eliot, B.A. 1706, and the relatives of Nellie P. Eliot
1983.98
Characterized by the strong sense of pattern typical of the style of itinerant painters, Jonathan Budington’s portrait of the Eliot family in a book-filled interior epitomizes the educated modern family that emerged in the mid-1700s. Proudly attesting to his good behavior, five-year-old Ely Augustus displays the chapter “Duty to Parents” in John Ely’s popular book The Child’s Instructor. The child’s father, George Eliot, was a prominent farmer and property owner; on the bookshelf, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations hints at Eliot’s liberal economic philosophy. Eliot’s wife, Patience, holds an elegant silk drawstring bag, which marks her as a woman of leisure and refinement and was probably a product of her own skill at hand embroidery.
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Status: 
Not on view
Bibliography: 

Peter Hawes, A Great Panorama Celebrating Twenty-five Years of American Art at Yale, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1998), 7, ill.

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), 4, 224–25, no. 124, ill.

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.