1902 self portrait Painter, designer and professor
I was born on July 25, 1844 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I grew up in a wealthy family. My father was a writing master so while growing up I observed my father at work and learned many skills, which I would use in my art.
I graduated from Central High School and in 1861 attended The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. From 1864-1865 I attended Jefferson Medical College. I wanted to become a surgeon. From 1866 to 1870 I traveled to Paris to learn more about art and I was exposed
I spent 6 months in Spain where I learned a lot about art and attempted my first large oil painting. Upon returning to America I painted one of my first paintings ever. Max Schmitt in a single scull(1871), Metropolitan
I returned to the Pennsylvania Academy in 1876 to teach as a volunteer. In 1878 I became a salaried professor. I was highly influential. I encouraged students to use photography a as an aid to anatomy and the study of motion.
By 1880 the Academy’s course was one of the best in the world, because of me. Reason I believed this happened was because I believed in equality so I taught all genders.
I was fired in 1886 but I was very popular among the students. They formed the Art Students’ League of Philadelphia. Throughout my teaching career I taught at Art Students League of New York, National Academy of Design, Cooper Union and Art Students’ Guild in Washington D.C.
Introduced the camera to the American Art Studio. I learned about photography in France. I produced over 800 photos in my lifetime.
I produced a number of large paintings which brought the portrait out of the drawing room and into the offices, streets, parks, rivers, and any outside venue in my city. These active outdoor venues allowed me to paint the subject which most inspired me.
A lot of my paintings contained nude people because I was very interested in the human body. The swimming hole (1884-1885) features Eakins’ finest studies of the nude, in my most successfully constructed outdoor picture.
My paintings usually contained famous people, relatives and the city of Philadelphia. People around the country could see how the city of Philadelphia was during my time period. I have painted hundreds of paintings. The Gross Clinic,1875, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. My highest grossing painting.
I enjoyed painting family members while they were in their house. I wanted people to know how people acted while in their homes. Miss Amelia Van Buren, ca. 1891, The Phillips Collection Washington D.C.
Portrait of Maud Cook(1895), Yale University Art Gallery
While I was studying the anatomy of horses a friend of mine William O’Donovan asked me to help him with Lincoln and Grant, bronze sculptures. I did the horses and he did the humans.
Member of the National Academy of Design
Memorials at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.