3Thomas Eakins was one of many Americans who invaded Paris during the latter part of the nineteenth century to complete their artistic education.
4After returning to his hometown of Philadelphia in 1870, Eakins never left the United States again. He believed that great artists relied not on their knowledge of other artists’ works but on personal experience.
5For the length of his professional career, from the early 1870s until his health began to fail some forty years later, Eakins worked exactingly from life, choosing as his subject the people of his hometown of Philadelphia.
6He painted several hundred portraits, usually of friends, family members, or prominent people in the arts, sciences, medicine, and clergy.
7The portraits offer an overview of the intellectual life of Philadelphia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries;Individually, they are incisive depictions of thinking persons.
8At first Eakins painted only acquaintances The artist’s wifeAnd setter dog.
14In 1886 Eakins described her as … "a lady of perhaps thirty years or more, and from Detroit. She came to the Academy some years ago to study figure painting by which art she hoped to support herself, her parents I believe being dead. I early recognized her as a very capable person. She had a temperament sensitive to color and form, was grave, earnest, thoughtful, and industrious. She soon surpassed her fellows, and I marked her as one I ought to help in every way...."
15Eakins's helpfulness included unusual methods: He once disrobed privately for Van Buren in order to demonstrate an anatomical point, an action that he characterized as purely professional.Nevertheless, the story was one of numerous controversial incidents used by Eakins's political adversaries to prompt his dismissal from the Pennsylvania Academy.
16Eakins produced a number of large paintings which brought the portrait out of the drawing room and into the offices, streets, parks, rivers, arenas, and surgical amphitheaters of his city.
17These active outdoor venues allowed him to paint the subject which most inspired him: The nude or lightly clad figure in motion.In the process he could model the forms of the body in full sunlight, and create images of deep space utilizing his studies in perspective.
18For the rest of his career, Eakins remained committed to recording realistic scenes from contemporary American life.
20No less important in Eakins' life was his work as a teacher. As an instructor he was a highly influential presence in American art.
21Eakins's attitude toward realism in painting, and his desire to explore the heart of American life proved influential.
22He taught hundreds of students, among them his future wife Susan Macdowell, African-American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner, andThomas Anshutz, who taught, in turn, Robert Henri, George Luks, John Sloan, and Everett Shinn, future members of the Ashcan School, and other realists and artistic heirs to Eakins' philosophy.
23Though his is not a household name, and though during his lifetime Eakins struggled to make a living from his work, today he is regarded as one of the most important American artists of any period.
24Eakins also took a keen interest in the new technologies of motion photography, a field in which he is now seen as an innovator.Eakins was a controversial figure whose work received little by way of official recognition during his lifetime.Since his death, he has been celebrated by American art historians as "the strongest, most profound realist in nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century American art".
25'Lincoln and Grant', bronze sculptures by William Rudolf O'Donovan (men) & Thomas Eakins (horses), , Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York City
26During the three years Eakins was abroad, competitive rowing on the Schuylkill River, which runs through Philadelphia, had become the city’s leading sport.The Super bowl of Philadelphia !
27Schuylkill River, which runs through Philadelphia
28In England, rowing had long been regarded as the exclusive activity of gentlemen, but in Philadelphia anyone could take part, since rowing clubs made the expensive equipment available to all.
29Those who chose not to participate could gather on the banks of the river to cheer the oarsmen on, and rowing competitions became some of the most popular sporting events of the century.
30Eakins was an enthusiastic rower himself, but after his time in Paris he regarded the activity less as a form of recreation than a fertile source of subject matter that combined his dedication to modern life with his interest in anatomy.
31Even before he embarked on a classical European education that involved drawing from the nude, Eakins had studied human anatomy as part of his artistic training.
32Fascinated by the mechanics of movement, he was naturally drawn to athletes in action.
38Eakins has chosen the critical moment when the oarsman reaches the end of a backward stroke and prepares to dip his oars into the water;His next stroke will propel his racing shell ahead of the competition and right out of the picture’s frame.
40The river is full of activity on this bright summer day, With a fleet of sailboats and a crew team visible in the distance, our attention is focused on Biglin, whose body and scull form an elongated triangle in the center of the picture.
42The composition itself, with broad, even bands of sky and water, emphasizes the horizontal and imparts a stillness to the scene;That counteracts the excitement of the competition.
43When Eakins painted John Biglin in a Single Scull, he had only recently begun to work in watercolor
44However, he applied himself to mastering the medium with the dedication and self-discipline he admired in the athletes he portrayed.
45Water Colors Unlike oil paint, watercolor does not allow for error: It can’t be scraped off the surface and painted over if the artist makes a mistake or changes his mind.Oil paints easily allows for this.
46Many painters enjoy the spontaneity of the watercolor technique. Eakins worked to ensure that everything came out right on his first attempt.
47To establish the exact position of the rower, he first made an oil painting that could be corrected, if necessary.
68Whistling for PloverIn this bird-hunting scene set in the marshes of southern New Jersey, he used dry, tightly controlled brushstrokes to model his central figure and more fluid washes for the landscape.While the subject matter and academic approach (including extensive preparatory studies) parallel his work in oil, the artist preferred watercolor for this sun-drenched picture because it allowed him to paint“in a much higher key with all the light possible.”
77The Gross Clinic, or, The Clinic of Dr. Gross An 1875 painting by American artist Thomas Eakins. It is oil on canvas and measures 8 feet (240 cm) by 6.5 feet (200 cm).Dr. Samuel D. Gross, a seventy-year-old professor dressed in a black frock coat, lectures a group of Jefferson Medical College students.Included among the group is a self-portrait of Eakins, who is seated to the right of the tunnel railing, sketching or writing.Seen over Dr. Gross's right shoulder is the clinic clerk, Dr. Franklin West, taking notes on the operation. Eakins's signature is painted into the painting, on the front of the surgical table.
79The Gross Clinic, 1875, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. According to one prescient reviewer in 1876: This portrait of Dr. Gross is a great work--we know of nothing greater that has ever been executed in America.
80On November 11, 2006 the Board of Trustees at Thomas Jefferson University agreed to sell The Gross Clinic to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., andThe Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, ArkansasFor a record $68,000,000, the highest price for an Eakins painting as well as a record price for an individual American-made portrait.
81On December 21, 2006, a group of donors agreed to pay $68,000,000 in order to keep the painting in Philadelphia.It is displayed alternately at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.