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American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Samuel King, American, 1749–1819
Subject: Ezra Stiles, American, 1727–1795

Ezra Stiles (1727–1795), B.A. 1746, M.A. 1749


Oil on canvas

34 × 28 × 1 1/4 in. (86.4 × 71.1 × 3.2 cm)
Bequest of Dr. Charles Jenkins Foote, B.A. 1883, M.D. 1890

Ezra Stiles, a prominent Rhode Island minister and later the seventh president of Yale College, is shown in what he described as “a teaching attitude” surrounded by objects reflecting his interest in history, religion, and science. The luminous disk on the wall is inscribed with religious symbols and with the Hebrew letters for “God” beneath the overarching motto “All Happy in God.” On the column to the left are symbols representing the Newtonian and Pythagorean system of the sun, planets, and comets. Contemplating the portrait, Stiles pronounced, “These Emblems are more descriptive of my Mind, than the Effigies of my Face.”

Probably made in Newport, Rhode Island, United States
On view
18th century

David L. Barquist, Myer Myers: Jewish Silversmith in Colonial New York, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 231–33, no. 133, ill.

David McCullough, 1776 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), 33, 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), 2, 4–5, 166, 212–13, no. 114, ill.

Patricia Johnston and Caroline Frank, eds., Global Trade Visual Arts in Federal New England (Durham: University of New Hampshire Press, 2014), 2, pl. 1, fig. 1.1.

Donald L. Fennimore and Frank L. Hohmann III, Claggett: Newport’s Illustrious Clockmakers (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, 2018), 28–29, fig. 13.

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.