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Artists Thomas Eakins
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Thomas Eakins

American Painter, Photographer, and Teacher

Movements and Styles: Realism, Early American Modernism

Born: July 25,1844 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died: June 25, 1916 - Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Thomas Eakins Timeline

Quotes

"The brush is a more powerful and rapid tool than the point or stump."
Thomas Eakins
"A teacher can do very little for a pupil and should only be thankful if he don't hinder him and the greater the master, mostly the less he can say."
Thomas Eakins
"It is always a pleasure to teach what you know to those who want to learn."
Thomas Eakins
"You must be a student of Nature always."
Thomas Eakins
"I see no impropriety in looking at the most beautiful of Nature's works, the naked figure. If there is impropriety, then just where does such impropriety begin? [...] Should men make only the statues of men to be looked at by men, while the statues of women should be made by women to be looked at by women only? Should the he-painters draw the horses and bulls, and the she-painters like Rosa Bonheur the mares and cows? Must the poor old male body in the dissecting room be mutilated before Miss Prudery can dabble in his guts?"
Thomas Eakins
"In pursuance of my business and professional studies, I use the naked model."
Thomas Eakins
"I have never discovered that the nude can be studied in any way except the way I have adopted. All the muscles must be pointed out. To do this all the drapery must be removed."
Thomas Eakins
"Strain your brain more than your eye...You can copy a thing to a certain limit. Then you must use intellect."
Thomas Eakins
"If America is to produce great painters and if you artists wish to assume a place in the history of the art of their country, their first desire should be to remain in America to peer deeper into the heart of American life, rather than spend their time abroad obtaining a superficial view of the art of the Old World. In the days when I studied abroad conditions were entirely different. The facilities for study in this country were meagre. There were even no life classes in our art schools and schools of painting. Naturally one had to seek instruction elsewhere, abroad. Today we need not do that."
Thomas Eakins

"To draw the human figure is necessary to know as much as possible about it, about its structure and its movements, its bones and muscles, how they are made, and how they act."

Thomas Eakins Signature

Synopsis

Working primarily in the second half of the 19th century, Thomas Eakins painted portraits and sporting scenes with resolute Realism. His style renounced idealized and romantic depictions and advocated instead for precise investigation of the human form and the natural world. He embraced photography from its beginning as a tool to prepare his compositions and his bold and resolute paintings would greatly influence the next generation of American Realists known as the Ashcan School.

Key Ideas

Eakins was committed to scientific inquiry of natural laws to the point that he took anatomy lessons and observed dissections and surgeries. His uncompromising realism based on his astute observations brought a scientific rigor to his painting practice.
Because he felt that professional artists needed to have complete knowledge of the human body and its workings, Eakins insisted on working from nude models. Controversially eschewing Victorian propriety, both his male and female students learned to draw observing the nude figure.
Eakins' depictions of men and women were markedly different. His men, usually middle-class and professional, were portrayed at work or pursuing leisure activities, such as rowing and swimming. They embodied a virile masculinity with calm and repose. His women, however, were always shown in interior settings, and he emphasized their inner world, showing them in contemplation.

Biography

Thomas Eakins Photo

Childhood and Education

Thomas Eakins was the eldest of five children born to Benjamin and Caroline Eakins. Despite a supportive and secure childhood, Eakins experienced loses early in life, including the death of his younger brother.

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Thomas Eakins Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Thomas Eakins
Interactive chart with Thomas Eakins's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

William Merritt ChaseWilliam Merritt Chase
Jean-Léon GérômeJean-Léon Gérôme
Eadweard MuybridgeEadweard Muybridge
Christian Schussele
Earl Shinn

Personal Contacts

Mariana Griswold van Rensselaer
Walt WhitmanWalt Whitman

Movements

History painting
Modern PhotographyModern Photography
RealismRealism

Influences on Artist
Thomas Eakins
Thomas Eakins
Years Worked: 1862 - 1912
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Walker EvansWalker Evans
Robert HenriRobert Henri
Edward HopperEdward Hopper
Dorothea LangeDorothea Lange
Eadweard MuybridgeEadweard Muybridge

Personal Contacts

Fairman Rogers
Mariana Griswold van Rensselaer
Walt WhitmanWalt Whitman

Movements

Modern PhotographyModern Photography
Ashcan SchoolAshcan School
RealismRealism

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Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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