Thomas Eakins (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Eakins produced a handful of major paintings which were to add to the reputation of the United States as a center of art independent of Europe. He was also an important influence on art education in the United States.
Thomas Eakins was born in Philadelphia on July 25, 1844, and was to die in the family home in that city in 1916. Eakins’ father, Benjamin Eakins, of Scottish-Irish parentage, was a writing master in the Philadelphia school system, and Thomas had early ambitions to follow his father into that work. His mother was of English and Dutch descent. It was a close, middle-class family with a modest private income which was to help support Eakins throughout his life, since his teaching and painting did not always do so. He was particularly close to his three sisters, and they often appear in his paintings.
He evidenced early talents in draftsmanship and drawing and was to study them formally from high school onward, but he also had strengths in science, mathematics, and languages. Eakins was to use his knowledge of science and mathematics extensively in the preparation of his more complicated paintings.
Eakins studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, from 1861 to 1866. Drawing from casts of fine antique sculpture was the center of the technical studies at the school, and to Eakins’ dissatisfaction, little drawing was done from live...
(The entire section is 1715 words.)
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