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August 2003

Thomas Eakins: Further Viewing and Reading

Exhibition Catalogue

Readers interested in learning more about Eakins's life and work may want to own the very fine catalogue of the recent retrospective. To the publisher's comments and quotes from reviews, I would add only that its scholarly essays are both highly informative and a pleasure to read. Non-scholars will find them readily accessible for the most part, and are likely to be as enthralled as I by the more than 575 illustrations--including 250 in color (about 80 of which are full-page reproductions of Eakins's most important paintings). My only quibble is that the catalogue lacks a general index (though there is one of the works illustrated), which would have made it more useful, especially for scholars and students. Apart from this, I could not recommend this volume more highly. It is sure to give countless hours of delight and instruction. The hardcover edition of Thomas Eakins (which can be ordered directly through this link to amazon.com, thereby helping to support the Aristos website) is now available for less than the cost of the paperback.--L. T.

Online Sources

Art Renewal Center. There are nearly fifty images of paintings by Eakins on this excellent, remarkably comprehensive website, and 147 of works by his mentor, Gérôme.

Photo Albums. This is the largest collection of online images of Eakins's paintings (105 in all), spanning his entire career. They are arranged chronologically, in seven "albums." Vertical banner ads ruin the pleasure of viewing many of the enlargements of thumbnail images, however, unless they are blocked with a piece of paper.

Gallery Tour of Eakins exhibition. This tour on the Philadelphia Museum of Art website includes images of paintings and photographs, each accompanied by a brief informative commentary. Of particular interest are an image of bronze anatomical casts (1880) from original plaster casts made by Eakins and his students from a cadaver, and a portrait photograph by Eakins--"Unidentified Black Man Sitting, Facing Right" (1884).

Artcyclopedia. The Eakins entry on this website lists relevant museums and galleries, image galleries, articles, and more.

Works Online [no longer operative]. Links to images of paintings and photographs from various museums, as well as to major websites, are listed here.

"Pieces of the Real." Barely perceivable details from two of Eakins's paintings, The Champion Single Sculls and The Gross Clinic (mistakenly titled The Portrait of Professor Gross), are illustrated and briefly discussed here.

"Thomas Eakins: Scenes from Modern Life." An image gallery of photographs and paintings is the highlight of this website devoted to a film about Eakins's travels to Paris, Seville, and North Dakota, and his life and work in Philadelphia. The lesson plans for teachers of grades 9 through 12 are not recommended for many reasons--not least that they virtually ignore Eakins's paintings.

Naked Series: Female model (c. 1883). One of the "Naked Series," consisting of seven albumen prints, is illustrated in a flawed review of the retrospective exhibition in Paris.

"Study of Muscular Action." Eakins's interest in the science of anatomy is reflected in this lantern slide taken by him, in which a man demonstrates the tensile strength of a horse's muscles.

"Thomas Eakins: 'The Camera Artist.'" In this brief essay on Eakins's use of photography in his painting, one learns about the discovery of the tell-tale photographs in 1984.

"Master Craftsman," by Roger Kimball (National Review, November 19, 2001), on the artchive.com website. Kimball, who admires Eakins, offers a brief informed review of the recent retrospective.

"Traces of Genius: Is Art Sullied by Technology?" by Charles Paul Freund, Reason, August 2002. Regarding the Eakins exhibition and other matters related to the use of photography and the alleged use of other optical devices throughout art history, the author (who is not an art critic) claims that the use of optical aids enhances the art of painting.

"Technology and Genius [search for "eakins"]. Responding to the article by Charles Freund cited above, this letter from Louis Torres to the editor of Reason (December 2002) discusses Eakins's practice of tracing photographs onto his canvases and argues that Freund was wrong to suggest that the practice enhanced works so made. (The review of the Eakins exhibition, referred to in the letter was regrettably delayed, and appears in this issue (August 2003) of Aristos as "Thomas Eakins: Painting Pure Thought.")

Susan Macdowell Eakins. First a student of Eakins, then his wife, Susan Eakins was herself an accomplished painter whom he much admired. Here one can find a biography, images of five paintings, and other information about this most remarkable woman. Images [click on her name at: U. S. Women Painters: This Page] of two other works by her, including Portrait of Thomas Eakins (1889), are available on a website devoted to art by women at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. For a finer image of Two Sisters (1879), see the Art Renewal Center website (click on the image to enlarge it).


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