Illustration from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 64 (1882)
Thomas Eakins
Date: American painter, photographer, and sculptor, 1844–1916
Biography: Philadelphia painter Thomas Eakins was dedicated to his own brand of rigorous realism. Eakins was born in Philadelphia where his father worked as a writing master. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and attended anatomy lectures at Jefferson Medical College. He traveled to Paris in 1866 where he studied for three years, mostly with the French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux-Arts. Upon his return, Eakins painted athletic subjects and genre paintings, which he exhibited in national exhibitions alongside other young, European-educated artists who made figures, rather than the landscape, the focus of their paintings.

Eakins began to teach at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1876 and transformed it into the nation's leading art school. The focus of Eakins' instruction was the nude figure, and he was dismissed from the Academy for using a nude model in a lecture directed at male and female students. At the request of his most devoted pupils, after his dismissal, Eakins opened the Philadelphia Art Students' League.

After 1887, Eakins devoted himself to portraiture. Throughout his career, Eakins experimented with photography and complex perspectival systems to plan and compose his canvasses.