Thomas Eakins Controversy

This is what the weather outside is like.


Nice and Clear.



To get to our destination we must travel through American Art by way of a series of corridors which remind us of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We come to a room which appears to have no exit. There is a tiny sliver in the back left hand corner of the room. This brings us to a small portal. We are given the choice of passage into three various fields of American Art history or to traverse other areas of world art which we will visit later.


We choose Thomas Eakins…


Whenever a prominent historical figure’s history is written down it seems inevitable for them to have controversy in their lives. Thomas Eakins’ portraits give a detailed glimpse of the upper class lifestyle during the late 1800s. His obsession with the human body was incorporated in his teaching style at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts where he became a salaried professor and would eventually become director. He encouraged students to use photography to study anatomy and motion. He also integrated surgical dissection lessons which he learned while studying at Thomas Jefferson University. Plaster casts were created from these dissections which are shown in some of the pictures below.

Thomas had a insatiable desire to learn all he could about the human body and to be a great artist. He moved quickly towards becoming the director while teaching at the PAFA and was eager to share the knowledge he had gained with any who asked. He continually removed the mandatory loin cloths of male models and undressed himself to demonstrate movements of the pelvic muscles showing animosity or perhaps indifference towards the academy’s gymnophobic atmosphere until his forced resignation in 1886.

To be continued…


This man is fascinating.


This is the opening after being in the tiny corridor.


This is section devoted entirely to Thomas Eakins. The last picture includes some of his sketches which he believed should be done in paint. Mending the Net is a terrific piece which shows several different story lines.

Plaster casts of dissections at Philadelphia Museum of Art


One of the only traces of Thomas Eakins found in the main halls of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.


Self portrait of Thomas



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