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Thomas Anshutz papers, circa 1870-1942

Anshutz, Thomas Pollock, 1851-1912

Painter, Arts administrator

The papers of Thomas Pollock Anshutz in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 870 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 2.76 linear ft.

Summary: The papers document Anshutz's education and career as a painter, photographer, and art instructor. The collection is particularly rich in photographs made between approximately 1880 and 1900, when Anshutz and others at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, under the direction of Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), began using photography as an aid in the study of the figure and as studies for paintings. Also found are correspondence, a notebook with scattered sketches, a handful of clippings regarding Anshutz's career, and scattered notes and printed materials.
Photographs include vintage, original prints that were made during the period when Anshutz worked closely with Thomas Eakins, between 1880 and 1886, consisting of portraits, figure studies both nude and clothed, and class groups both posed and informal. Among the nude photographs are pastoral figure studies with Eakins himself as the model. This collection does not include any of the photographs from Eakins' so-called "Naked Series," although a triptych of three figure studies of Eadweard Muybridge closely resembles photographs from that series. Prints from this period are small in size and are probably original contact prints.
Also found are 49 glass negatives and 3 prints that Thomas Anshutz likely made in the 1890s, mostly of figures and marine subjects, many of which were used in his paintings of that period. Additional unattributed photographs of similar subjects are also found, as well as professional studio portraits of Eakins and others, and a handful of photographs that seem to have been made at a later time and kept by the family, which depict Anshutz, his studio, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and Anshutz's artwork.
Various scholars and curators, including staff at the Archives, have attempted to identify and attribute photographs in this collection, most of which bear no identifying marks. Particular attention has been paid to the question of which of the photos may have been taken by Thomas Eakins. Because the information they provided is often inconsistent with published sources, and because no sources were given for information not found elsewhere, these attempts at identification have not been included in this finding aid. Dates and attributions made in this finding aid are taken from scholarly and curatorial publications that have based their information on primary sources, including Eakins and the Photograph (1994) by Susan Danly and Cheryl Leibold; Thomas Eakins (2002), catalog to the exhibition Thomas Eakins: American Realist at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, especially the chronology by Kathleen Brown; The Photography of Thomas Eakins (1972) by Gordon Hendricks; and Thomas Anshutz: Artist and Teacher (1994) by Randall C. Griffin.

Biographical/Historical Note

Thomas Pollock Anshutz (1851-1912) was a painter, photographer, and art instructor from Philadelphia, Penn.


A portion of the letters (reel 140), the glass negatives and photographs were donated to AAA in 1971 by Mr. and Mrs. McCarty, occupants of the property formerly owned by the Anshutz family in Fort Washington, Penn. The remaining letters, photographs and school notebook were donated by Elizabeth R. Anshutz, wife of Anshutz's son Edward, at the same time.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • 18 illustrated letters (reel 140): Originals returned to Mrs. Edward Anshutz after microfilming.