About This Artwork

Thomas Eakins
American, 1844–1916

Portrait of Mary Adeline Williams, 1899

Oil on canvas
61 × 50.8 cm (24 × 20 1/16 in.)

Friends of American Art Collection, 1939.548

During his lifetime, Thomas Eakins painted more than 200 portraits, only 25 of which were commissioned. Mary Adeline Williams was a personal friend of the artist; Eakins first met her when she was a childhood playmate of his sister. Later, as an unmarried woman, Williams lived with Eakins and his wife, Susan. The person presented by this portrait—straitlaced, severe, and spinsterish—is in marked contrast with the active woman described by Susan Eakins in her diary as riding bicycles, going to art exhibitions, and lunching out between sittings for the painting.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York City, Kleeman Gallery, Thomas Eakins, Oct. 31-Nov. 25, 1939, cat. 6, as Lady in Black.

Milwaukee Art Institute, WI, Six Centuries of Portrait Masterpieces, Oct. 2-Nov. 15, 1942, as Woman in Black, Mary Adeline Williams.

Durand Art Institute, Lake Forest College, A Century of American Painting: Masterpieces Loaned by The Art Institute of Chicago, June 10-16, 1957, cat. 13, as Addie, Woman in Black.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Thomas Eakins: A Retrospective Exhibition, Oct. 8-Nov. 12, 1961, cat. 73, as Addie, Woman in Black; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago, Dec. 1-Jan. 7, 1962, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 1-Mar. 18, 1962.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Thomas Eakins, Artist of Philadelphia, May 29-Aug. 1, 1982, cat. 137, as Portrait of Mary Adeline Williams (Addie, Woman in Black); traveled to Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Sept. 22-Nov. 28, 1982.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Thomas Eakins, Sept. 30, 2001-Jan. 6, 2002; Paris, Musee d'Orsay, Feb. 3-May 12, 2002, New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 10-Sept. 15, 2002.

Publication History

Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the Late Thomas Eakins, exh. cat., (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1918).

“Thomas Eakins 1844-1916,” The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin, 25, 133 (Mar. 1930), entire issue.

Lloyd Goodrich, Thomas Eakins: His Life and Work (Whitney Museum of American Art, 1933).

Thomas Eakins, 1844-1916: A Retrospective Exhibition of his Paintings (Baltimore Museum of Art, 1936).

“Last of Eakins,” Art Digest 14 (Oct. 1, 1939), p. 14.

J.W.L. “Eakins Reviewed in Two Exhibits,” Art News 38 (Nov. 11, 1939), pp. 11-12.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Two Paintings by Thomas Eakins,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 34, 3 (Mar. 1940), pp. 38-40.

A Loan Exhibition of the Works of Thomas Eakins, 1844-1944, exh. cat., (M. Knoedler, 1944).

Thomas Eakins Centennial Exhibition, 1844-1916, exh. cat., (Carnegie Institute, 1944).

Margaret McHenry, The Eakins Who Painted (Weathwood, 1946).

Sylvan Schendler, Eakins, (Little, Brown, and Company, 1967).

Lloyd Goodrich, Thomas Eakins: Retrospective Exhibition (Whitney Museum of American Art, 1970).

Gordon Hendricks, The Photographs of Thomas Eakins (Grossman Publishers, 1972).

Gordon Hendricks, The Life and Work of Thomas Eakins (Grossman Publishers, 1974).

Phyllis D. Rosenzweig, The Thomas Eakins Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977).

Theodor Siegl, The Thomas Eakins Collection (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1978).

Lloyd Goodrich, Thomas Eakins (Harvard University Press, 1982), 2 vol.

Elizabeth Johns, Thomas Eakins: The Heroism of Modern Life (Princeton University, 1983)

David Lubin, Act of Portrayal: Eakins, Sargent, James (Yale University Press, 1985).

Michael Fried, Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane (University of Chicago Press, 1987).

Kathleen Foster et al., The Manuscripts in Charles Bregler’s Thomas Eakins Collection (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989).

William J. Clark, “The Iconography of Gender in Thomas Eakins Portraiture,” American Studies, 32, 2 (Fall 1991), pp. 5-28.

William Innes Homer, Thomas Eakins: His Life and Art (Abbeville Press Publishers, 1992).

John Wilmerding, ed., Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) and Heart of American Life (National Portrait Gallery, 1993).

Susan Danly et al., Eakins and the Photograph: Works by Thomas Eakins and His Circle in the Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994).

Adam Gopnik, “Eakins in the Wilderness,” New Yorker (Dec. 26, 1994 / Jan. 2, 1995), pp. 78-91.

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998).

Ownership History

Thomas Eakins, from 1899 to 1916; Eakins Estate/Susan Macdowell Eakins, from 1916 to 1939; Babcock Galleries, New York City, 1939; sold to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1939.

Interpretive Resources

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