Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)

Sierra Club


The big artist keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools.


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American painter. Eakins is regarded by most critics as the outstanding American painter of the 19th century and by many as the greatest his country has yet produced. Eakins was born at Philadelphia, on the 25th of July 1844. A pupil of J. L. Gerome, in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and also of Leon Bonnat, besides working in the studio of the sculptor Dumont, he became a prolific portrait painter. He also painted genre pictures, sending to the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia, in 1876, the Chess Players, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A large canvas, The Surgical Clinic of Professor Gross, owned by Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, contains many life-sized figures. Eakins, with his pupil Samuel, Murray (b. 1870), modelled the heroic Prophets for the Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia, and his work in painting has a decided sculptural quality.

He was for some years professor of anatomy at the schools of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. A man of great inventiveness, he experimented in many directions, depicting on canvas modern athletic sports, the negro, and early American life, but he is best known by his portraits. He received awards at the Columbian (1893), Paris (1900), Pan-American (1900), and the St Louis (1904), Expositions; and won the Temple medal in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Proctor prize of the National Academy of Design. [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)]

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