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Thomas Eakins

Artist

Born: 25 July 1844
Died: 25 June 1916
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best known as: American realist painter who did Max Schmitt in a Single Scull
Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins was an American artist from Philadelphia whose most famous works are Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871) and The Gross Clinic (1875). Eakins studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1862-66), then in Paris and Spain, returning to Philadelphia in 1870. His early paintings of sculling and sailing displayed his mastery of geometry and composition and revealed his devotion to realism. A student of anatomy and, after 1880, photography, his unsentimental attention to detail was such that one of his most famous paintings, The Gross Clinic, caused a stir for it's shocking depiction of surgery (now it's considered his masterpiece, as well as a valuable addition to the history of modern medicine). Eakins became an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1876 and rose to the position of director by 1882. Again, his insistence on realism got him into trouble when he used a naked male model in a class of men and women students and was forced to resign (1886). Eakins continued to teach elsewhere until 1898, all the while creating portraits and outdoor scenes, including The Swimming Hole (1882-85), a scene of nude men surrounded by water and rock (and including the image of Eakins himself). He married former student and painter Susan Hannah MacDowell in 1884.
Extra credit: The Gross Clinic is also known as The Clinic of Dr. Gross.

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