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Thomas Eakins Quotes

Thomas Eakins
  • 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
  • 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

"Strain your brain more than your eye... You can copy a thing to a certain limit. Then you must use intellect"

Thomas Eakins

"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"

Thomas Eakins

"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"

Thomas Eakins

"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"

Thomas Eakins

"I have but little patience with the false modesty which is the greatest enemy to all figure painting"

Thomas Eakins

"We appreciate politeness when we are far from home. We may have different ideas of the word"

Thomas Eakins

"I taught in the Academy from the opening of the schools until I was turned out"

Thomas Eakins

"When a man paints a naked woman he gives her less than poor Nature did"

Thomas Eakins

"In mathematics the complicated things are reduced to simple things. So it is in painting"

Thomas Eakins

"Must the poor old male body in the dissecting room be mutilated before Miss Prudery can dabble in his guts?"

Thomas Eakins

"My honors are misunderstanding, persecution and neglect, enhanced because unsought"

Thomas Eakins

"Enthusiasm for one's goal lessens the disagreeableness of working toward it"

Thomas Eakins

"The brush is a more powerful and rapid tool than the point or the stump"

Thomas Eakins

"The big artist ... keeps a sharp eye on nature and steals her tools"

Thomas Eakins
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Thomas Eakins Biography

The painter Thomas Eakins traversed a well trodden path just like many an artist before and after him as he was never appreciated during his lifetime where he struggled to sell paintings and the art establishment of the day refused to acknowledge his undoubted ability. It was only posthumously that his body of work has gained the appreciation it fully deserved.

After Eakins 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.

Eakins' 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.

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

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 14 of the best Thomas Eakins quotes

Quotes About Thomas Eakins

Art historian Lloyd Goodrich rated him highly: "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) was praiseful with his words: "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"

The art critic Robert Hughes was impressed to say: "He was never interested in conventional beauty. Sober, pinched, reflective, lined and melancholy, his portraits remind us of that. But how many American artists said more about the sense of being in the world? Eakins was that extreme rarity, an artist who refused to tell a lie even in the service of his own imagination"

The artist Robert Henri talked of his influences: "Eakins was a deep student of life, and with a great love he studied humanity frankly. He was not afraid of what his study revealed to him"

Thomas Eakins image quote