Just like many an artist before and after him he was never appreciated during his lifetime where he struggled to sell paintings and the art establishment of his day refused to acknowledge his undoubted ability. It was only posthumously that his body of work has gained the appreciation it fully deserved. After his artistic sojourn to Europe to learn more about realism from the French and Spanish masters he returned to the U.S. with a determination to reject the surrealism movement and introduce his vision of realism to the American art world. His skill with the brush on canvas was a delight to behold but he had many detractors who would rather see a talent suffer, usually to the furtherance of their own careers. In the 1880's Thomas worked at the Pennsylvania Academy teaching art students in what was regarded as the most risque and liberal art educational class in the world. Nude models were used and even the students themselves stripped down to be painted without segregation of the male/female model from the male/female student. Eventually the pressure mounted and he was forced to resign even though he was still supported by his students. Eakins was also a master portrait painter but he was not always appreciated for this by his clients, because of his obsession with realism his subjects were painted with warts, spots and blemishes as opposed the the practice of giving the customer a somewhat nicer version of themselves. In his day he was regarded as unconventional and reckless with his both his brush and his words, today Eakins stands as one of the greats of the American art world meaning he was before his time. He was also good for a one liner so here is my compilation of 10 of the best Thomas Eakins quotes
- Mini Bio
- Name: Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins
- Born: 25th July 1844, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
- Died: 25th June 1916, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
- Alma mater: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and École des Beaux-Arts
- Occupation: Artist, painter and educator
- Influenced by: Diego Velásquez, Jean-Leon Gerome, Jusepe de Ribera and Rembrant
- Movement: Realism
- Controversy: In 1886 he was forced to resign from the Pennsylvania Academy because of his insistence on using nude models for his students to paint
- Art sale: His 1875 painting entitled The Gross Clinic was sold in 2006 for $68,000,000 a record for an Eakins painting. It was purchased by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC
- Trivia: From 1866 to 1870 he studied art in Europe where he absorbed the techniques of the realist artists in the cities of Paris and Seville
- Quotes about Thomas Eakins: Art historian Lloyd Goodrich said of him; "In portraiture alone Eakins was the strongest American painter since Copley, with equal substance and power, and added penetration, depth, and subtlety"
- The poet Walt Whitman (whose portrait he painted in 1888) said about him; "I never knew of but one artist, and this is Tom Eakins, who could resist the temptation to see what they think ought to be rather than what is"
"Strain your brain more than your eye... You can copy a thing to a certain limit. Then you must use intellect"
"I can conceive of few circumstances wherein I would have to paint a woman naked, but if I did I would not mutilate her for double the money. She is the most beautiful thing there is, except a naked man"
"It is well to go abroad and see the works of the old masters, but Americans... must strike out for themselves, and only by doing this will we create a great and distinctly American art"
"A teacher can do very little for a pupil and should only be thankful if he don't hinder him, and the greater the master, mostly the less he can say"
"In mathematics the complicated things are reduced to simple things. So it is in painting"
"Must the poor old male body in the dissecting room be mutilated before Miss Prudery can dabble in his guts?"
"My honors are misunderstanding, persecution and neglect, enhanced because unsought"
"Enthusiasm for one's goal lessens the disagreeableness of working toward it"
"The brush is a more powerful and rapid tool than the point or the stump"
"The big artist ... keeps a sharp eye on nature and steals her tools"