Thomas Eakins

Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) was born in Philadelphia and quickly became an American institution. His portraiture and landscapes are a visual record of late 19th Century America, especially Philadelphia society. Today, his sensitivity to the male form is perhaps more telling than it was then. In 1868, he told his father that the female nude may be “the most beautiful thing there is in the world except a naked man, but I never yet saw a study of one exhibited.” Both in photographs and in paintings, Eakins brought the male nude to the public imagination in America, often in banal, athletic scenarios – wrestlers and swimmers, friends in repose. Along with Edweard Muybridge, Eakins was one of the first artists to pursue studies in motion photography; like Muybridge, he chose the male nude as his subject.