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Eakins on Paper: Drawings and Watercolors from the Collection

September 4–December 19, 2010

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is placing on display ten rarely seen drawings and watercolors that survey the early work of Thomas Eakins (1844–1916), celebrated as one of the greatest draftsmen in the history of American art. Eakins's life class drawings (made by studying a live model), created while he was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the 1860s, illustrate the central focus on figure drawing that inspired the formation of the Sketch Club during that decade. After studying in Paris from 1866 to 1870, Eakins returned to Philadelphia to share his expertise with the club's members, offering critiques at their life drawing sessions from about 1873 to 1876, when he began to teach at the Academy. Other examples of the artist's figure subjects in pen and ink and watercolor include a rare wash of Dr. Samuel D. Gross from 1875, based on the image in his famous painting of the same year, The Gross Clinic, and unusual tracings that he made from his own photographs in the early 1880s, documenting his scientific interest in human anatomy. These drawings and watercolors are on view in gallery 118 alongside figure subjects and portraits in oil from the Museum's rich collection of the artist's work, demonstrating Eakins's reputation as a master of realism.

Main Building


Kathleen A. Foster, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art, and Director, Center for American Art

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