American realist painter, one of the foremost of the 19th century. Working independently of contemporary European styles, he was the first major artist after the American Civil War (1861-1865) to produce a profound and powerful body of work drawn directly from the experience of American life.
Born in Philadelphia on July 25, 1844, Thomas Eakins studied drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1861 to 1866. His concurrent study of anatomy at Jefferson Medical College led to a lifelong interest in scientific realism. Eakins spent three years in Paris from 1866 to 1869, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Thomas Eakins was strongly influenced by 17th-century masters, particularly the Dutch artist Rembrandt and the Spanish painters Josepe de Ribera and Diego Velezquez. These masters impressed him with their realism and psychological penetration. Thomas Eakins' oil paintings attend to space and light and communicate a sense of individual liberty. Thomas Eakins returned to Philadelphia in 1870 and lived there the rest of his life. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has the best collection of his oil paintings.
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