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date: 15 December 2019

Eakins, Thomas Cowperthwaitelocked

Extract

American, 19th–20th century, male.

Born 25 July 1844, in Philadelphia; died 25 June 1916, in Philadelphia.

Painter, sculptor. Nudes, portraits, genre scenes, sporting subjects.

Realism.

Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins’ father was a writing master in Philadelphia. Between 1861 and 1866, he enrolled in a drawing course at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and at the same time followed a course in anatomy at the medical faculty. At Jefferson Medical College, he attended and participated in dissections and produced studies of nudes. In 1866, he went to Paris, enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts, and spent over three years working in Jean-Léon Gérôme’s studio. His meticulous attention to detail and taste for drawing gave him an advantage at the school, an institution that was still dominated by the art of Ingres. He also attended the atelier of Léon Bonnat, who stressed anatomical exactitude. After a trip to Spain, where he was impressed by Ribera and Velázquez, he returned to Philadelphia in 1870. In 1877, he was appointed professor of drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. In 1886, a dispute about his decision to use a male nude model in a mixed class led to his forced resignation. In the summer of 1887, he made a 10-week trip to the Dakota Badlands. He became an isolated painter, painting subjects acceptable to the larger public but where the introduction of nudes was unavoidable. An example is ...

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