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Thomas Eakins letters, 1866-1934

Eakins, Thomas, 1844-1916

Photographer, Painter, Sculptor

The letters of Thomas Eakins were digitized in 2006 by the Archives of American Art. The letters have been scanned in their entirety, and total 143 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 0.2 Linear feet

Summary: The letters of Thomas Eakins measure 0.2 linear feet and date from 1866 to 1934. They primarily document the period between 1866 and 1869 that he spent studying art in Paris, as well as his career as a portrait artist.

Biographical/Historical Note

Realist painter Thomas Eakins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1844. He was encouraged by his parents to develop his talent in art, and in 1862 he entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Also during this period Eakins developed an interest in anatomy, revealed later in the realistically detailed Gross Clinic , painted in 1875. In 1866 he moved to Paris, where he studied painting with Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for three years, and briefly with sculptor Augustin-Alexandre Dumont and painter Léon Bonnat. He toured Spain for six months in 1870 and then returned to Philadelphia to become a portrait artist. Eakins began teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and became its director of instruction in 1882. During this period he also met fellow artist Susan MacDowell and they were married in 1884. While at the Academy, he promoted a curriculum based on the study of the human figure, and began using photography as a method of study for his paintings. A dispute over the use of nude models forced Eakins to resign from the Academy in 1886, but he continued painting and exhibiting until his death in 1916.

Provenance

Letters from Eakins to his family were donated by Dr. Caroline Crowell, daughter of Frances Eakins Crowell, and niece of Thomas Eakins. Other letters were donated in 1962 and 1963 by Irving Levitt and Lawrence Fleischman. Both accessions were microfilmed upon receipt.

Funding

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