Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (1844-1916) was an American painter who is best known for his realistic depictions of the male body. Eakins's quest for realism led him to study anatomy and apply his research to creating works with dark lighting and realistic depictions. He endured much public scorn in his early years for his obsession with the male figure, however was recognized as a great master towards the end of his life. Our pattern set includes a self portrait, several sculling and wrestling scenes. His most recognized works including The Swimming Hole, The Gross Clinic, Baby at Play, and The Agnew Clinic are also included. There are also many portraits included such as Miss Amelia Van Buren, Portrait of Maud Cook, Maybelle, Lucy Lewis, Weda Cook, Alice Kurtz, and Walt Whitman.

Patterns Included In This Set:


Self Portrait

Max Schmitt in a Single Scull

The Gross Clinic


The Agnew Clinic

Miss Amelia Van Buren

The Swimming Hole


The Wrestlers


Portrait of Maud Cook


An Actress

Alfred Bryan Wall

Ernest Lee Parker


The Artist's Wife and His Setter Dog

Baby at Play

Portrait of Walt Whitman


Portrait of Douglas Morgan Hall

The Biglin Brothers Racing



The Cello Player

A Singer: Portrait of Mrs Leigh

Antiquated Music


Cowboy Singing

Frank Jay St. John



Portrait of Alice Kurtz

Portrait of Archbishop William Henry Elder

Portrait of Charles Linford the Artist


Portrait of Leslie W. Miller

Portrait of Lucy Lewis

Portrait of Mary Adeline Williams


Portrait of Susan MacDowell Eakins

Portrait of William B. Kurtz

Signora Gomez d'Arza


Taking the Count

The Dean's Roll Call

Weda Cook


The Thinker

John Biglin in a Single Scull

Margaret in Skating Costume


Starting Out after Rail

The Concert Singer

The Writing Master

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Thomas Eakins (July 25, 1844-June 25, 1916) is today regarded as one of the most significant American realist painters of the 19th century. He was an influential teacher and innovator in the field of photography and the nude in motion.

Eakins was born in Philadelphia, the eldest of five children born to Benjamin and Caroline Eakins. His father was a writing master and by the time Eakins was twelve he already showed accomplished drafting abilities. In 1861 he studied drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, graduating in 1866. However, his passion was the depiction of the human form, so he also studied anatomy at Jefferson Medical College.

The 1860s saw a wave of American artists going to Europe to study, and Eakins was no exception. In 1866 he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris under Gérôme and Bonnat, who exposed him to the works of the Spanish and Dutch realists. In 1869 he traveled to Spain to view the works of Velazquez and Ribera.

Eakins was beginning to form his artistic vision: a winter spent in Spain copying the works of the Spanish masters helped him learn their techniques, and in July 1870 he returned to Philadelphia, where he was to remain for the rest of his life.

One of the first works Eakins produced after his return was a large rowing scene on the Schuylkill River, part of a series of sporting paintings. Eakins had excelled at sports at school and the subject was perfect for his realistic approach. But both the scene and the technique used shocked conventional Philadelphia. He also produced portraits and interiors, using his family and friends as the subjects. These works showed such an unsentimental honesty in their realism that did not go down well.

In 1874 Eakins became engaged to Kathrin Crowell, who had sat for his first large-scale portrait two years earlier. But they never married. After a five year engagement, Kathrin tragically died of meningitis in 1879.

Medical science had always fascinated Eakins. At the Jefferson Medical College he had dissected corpses and watched operations and in 1875 he painted The Gross Clinic, now considered to be his masterpiece and one of the most splendid examples of American portraiture. The painting, which took him almost a year to produce, shows a renowned surgeon performing an operation and was produced for the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. The painting was rejected by the jury; the realistic, unsentimental depiction of live surgery and blood was just too shocking. It was eventually bought by Jefferson College for $200.

In that same year, Eakins began teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and was nominated as Director in 1882. He threw out old-fashioned teaching methods and introduced drawing from the live model, anatomy studies and even the use of photography in drawing the human figure. His teaching methods revolutionized art education, but were not widely adopted until after his death in 1916. While teaching at the Academy, Eakins became interested in the use of photography as a means of capturing the human body in motion and a meeting with Edward Muybridge led to a revolutionary series of motion studies using photography.

Throughout his life Thomas Eakins was never far from scandal and his tenure at the Academy was no exception. Traditionally, male models in the drawing classes were covered with a loincloth but, carried away by his enthusiasm, Eakins removed the model's loincloth in one such class. There were female students present and the incident was just too much for the Academy's Board. Eakins was forced to resign in 1886. He was deeply hurt by this forced resignation and would remain bitter about the incident for the rest of his life.

Eakins had met Susan MacDowell in 1876, the year he started working at the Academy. Susan had been one of his students and they married in 1884. The couple did not have any children, but they shared a passion for art and photography.

Following his dismissal from the Academy, Eakins turned to portrait painting, but was not successful. The Academy scandal continued to haunt him and his approach to portraiture, which was to capture the sitter's personality through uncompromising realism, was not popular. His sitters often complained that he made them look old and rejected the work. Nevertheless, Thomas Eakins produced some 250 portraits throughout his career. But rejection made Eakins more and more of a recluse and he spent much of his later life in bitter isolation. He was able to continue painting only thanks to financial support from his father and the fact that he had a studio in the family home.

Eakins earned a small measure of recognition around the early 1900s, and in 1902 he was made a member of the National Academy of Design. But his health was failing and he did not paint very much during the last six years of his life. Thomas Eakins died of heart failure in 1916. Although he had sold fewer than thirty paintings during his lifetime, he is today considered to be one of America's greatest artists.

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