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Indepth Arts News:

"Thomas Eakins: American Realist"
2001-10-04 until 2001-01-06
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, PA, USA

With his life and work deeply rooted in Philadelphia, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) emerged as one of the most outstanding American artists of the 19th century. In celebration of its 125th anniversary in 2001, the Museum will present a spectacular loan exhibition surveying, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the career of this enormously challenging, controversial, and influential artist. On view will be some 60 major oil paintings, together with examples of Eakins's work in watercolor, drawing and sculpture, selected from the Museum's own unrivaled collections and borrowed from public and private collections nationwide.

Eakins was one of the earliest American artists to make photography an integral part of his creative process. For the first time in a major retrospective of his work, Thomas Eakins: American Realist will include some 120 photographs by the artist and his circle.

Eakins was among the first generation of American artists who flocked to Paris for artistic training. Unlike his contemporaries, however, he was determined to apply Beaux-Arts techniques to subjects that were distinctly American and reflected his own experience. Eakins's preoccupation with athletics is reflected in his famous scenes of rowing, sailing, fishing and boxing, among other sports. Some of the finest and most celebrated of these - Max Schmitt in a Single Scull, Starting Out After Rail, Shad Fishing at Gloucester on the Delaware River, and Between Rounds, among others - will be shown in the exhibition.

Eakins is equally well-known for his portraits that, as deeply moving character studies, often reflect the complexities of American life at the turn of the century. His two controversial paintings of famous surgeons at work in their operating amphitheaters - The Gross Clinic and The Agnew Clinic - will be included. Also on view will be a group of other outstanding portraits, including Miss Van Buren, Professor Henry A. Rowland, The Thinker, and Mrs. William D. Frishmuth.

The last comprehensive survey of Eakins's work was mounted by the Museum in 1982; it traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Since that time, there has been a great deal of exciting new scholarship about Eakins and his times, and many previously unknown works by him have surfaced. Thomas Eakins: American Realist will introduce a new generation of the public to this great painter and key figure in American art.

Thomas Eakins, 1874
Starting Out After Rail
Oil on canvas mounted on masonite
24 1/4 x 19 7/8
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Hayden Collection

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