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Thomas Eakins oil painting art reproduction


Thomas Eakins

(Jul. 25,1844 Philadelphia - Jun. 25,1916) American Oil Painting Artist Biography.

Thomas Eakins passed the major part of his life there with the exception of a period of training in Europe from 1866-70. He studied in Paris with Jean-Leon Gerome, but learnt most from the Spanish painters Diego Velazquez, absorbing a precise and uncompromising sense for actuality which he applied to portraiture and genre painting of the life of his native city (boating and bathing were favorite themes). But unlike such popular society portraitists as John singer Sargent, who became a professional expatriate in London, Eakins found his vocation as a distinctively American oil painter. "If America is to produce great painters," he wrote late in life, young artists should "remain in America to peer deeper into the heart of American life." In 1870, Eakins returned to Philadelphia, never to set foot in Europe again. Eakins from the beginning pursued his art with a deliberate, workmanlike mastery. He once said that the studio of his friend William Merritt Chase was an "atelier" whereas his own studio was a "workshop."

Eakins's first works upon his return from Europe included a large group of rowing and boating scenes oil paintings. The most famous of these is "The Champion Single Sculling" also known as Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Eakins placed himself in the painting, in a scull behind Schmitt, his name inscribed on the boat. Typically, the work entailed critical observation of the painting's subject, as well as preparatory drawings of the figure and perspective plans of the scull in the water. His interest in the depiction of the figure in motion, nearly nude, later led to a series of paintings of prizefighters, Between Rounds.

He began teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1876 and was attacked for his radical ideas, particularly his insistence on working from nude models. In 1886 he was forced to resign after allowing a mixed class to draw from a completely nude male model. Thomas Eakins's quest for realism led him to study anatomy and make full use of Muybridge's photographic researches, but the scientific bent in his work is of less importance than his honesty and depth of characterization. His portraits are often compared to Rembrandt's because of their dramatic play of somber lighting and sense of inner truth. The most famous of his oil paintings is The Gross Clinic (1875,Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia), led the squeamish jury to reject it as "unsightly" when it was first exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. The painting one of Eakins's most famous was finally sold to the medical school for the insulting sum of only $200, an experience that was repeated with The Agnew Clinic (1889, University of Pennsylvania).

Because of financial support from his father, Eakins could continue on his chosen course despite public abuse, but much of his later career was spent working in bitter isolation. It was not until the early 1900s that Eakins began to attract significant public interest. In 1902, when he was in his late 50s, he was finally invited to join the National Academy of Design. It was only near the end of his life that he achieved recognition as a great master and in the first two decades of the 20th century his desire to "peer deeper into the heart of American life" was reflected in the work of the Ash-can School and other Realist painters.

As well as being a painter and photographer, Eakins also made a few sculptures. His wife, Susan MacDowell Eakins (1851-1938) whom he married in 1884, was also a painter and photographer. Eakins is regarded by most critics as the outstanding American painter of the 19th century and by many as the greatest America has yet produced joining the ranks of the worlds artist.

Thomas Eakins, Between Rounds

Thomas Eakins, Max Schmitt in a Single Scull

Thomas Eakins, Baseball Players Practicing

Thomas Eakins, An Arcadian Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic
Thomas Eakins biography

Between Rounds

Max Schmitt in a Single Scull

Baseball Players Practicing An Arcadian The Gross Clinic

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