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About This Artwork
Study for "William Rush Carving His Allegorical Figure of the Schuylkill River", 1876/77
Oil on canvas mounted on board
35.9 x 28.6 cm (14 1/8 x 11 1/4 in.)
Bequest of Dr. John J. Ireland, 1968.91
Best known for his realist portraits and scenes of contemporary life, Thomas Eakins also spent considerable energy on history paintings. Here, he executed a study for a painting that celebrates an early American sculptor, William Rush. In the finished painting, Rush is depicted carving his Water Nymph and Bittern (1809), for which the model poses; the statue adorned a public square in Philadelphia, the hometown of both artists. Eakins, an ardent advocate of studying from life, highlights this artistic working method in his rendering of the female form. In 1870s America, artistic studies from the nude figure remained a rarity, a condition that Eakins worked hard to overturn in the following years as an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Art Institute of Chicago, Art at The Time of the Centennial, June 19-August 8, 1976, no Catalogue or checklist published, as Nude.
Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia Museum of Art "Thomas Eakins" traveled to Paris, Musee d'Orsay, February 3-May 12, 2002, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 10-September 15, 2002 (Philadelphia and New York only).