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Analysis of Thomas Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic” (Research Paper Sample)


The paper Instruction will be uploaded and the topic I choose is the First one (Many artists and movements we have considered this semester were disillusioned by current events. Research the work of an artist (1800 to the present) whose work responds to the politics, social mores, and/or significant local or global events of their time. Consider the various ways in which artists have expressed their critiques, including style and subject matter. How are/were these works of art received?) The artist is Thomas Eakins.


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Analysis of Thomas Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic”
Art mainly reflects the activities happening in society (Patrick and Sirayi 283). Throughout history, artists have used their skill and knowledge to change the way society views issues. One of the artists who made a significant impact on his society is Thomas Eakins. One of his remarkable paintings is “The Gross Clinic.” The painting allowed the public to appreciate the work of surgeons and the medical field in general.
About the Thomas Eakins
Thomas Eakins was an American artist. He was known for his realist depictions of the human figure. During his entire professional career, Eakins chose his subjects from his hometown in Philadelphia. He painted portraits mainly of his friends, family and noticeable individuals especially in arts and medicine. Eakins was born in Philadelphia in 1844. In 1962, he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) after graduating from the City’s Central High School (Jones 1). Eakins was fascinated with the anatomy of the body. As a result, Eakins attended anatomy classes at Jefferson Medical College. He observed surgeries to become more familiar with the manner the body works. This knowledge would later become critical to his artistic development. In 1866, Eakins went to Paris to further his artistic training. Under the guidance of painter Jean-Leon Gerome, Eakins began to appreciate the human figure. The knowledge he gained from the training latter became crucial to his work as a sculptor, painter and photographer. In 1870, Eakins returned to Philadelphia where he devoted his energy painting about the city and the people. He took a teaching job at PAFA in 1876 and later became a professor in the same field. Eakins was both respected and criticized for his radicle beliefs regarding the manner in which schools should train artists. He emphasized on the anatomical dissection as well studying nudes.
Description of the Piece
Thomas Eakins completed “The Gross Clinic” in 1875 (Jones 1). The work features the celebrated American trauma surgeon, Dr. Samuel Gross. He is carrying out surgery in the Jefferson Medical College in the presence of his students. Dr. Gross is illuminated by the skylight overhead. Five doctors are attending to the young patient. The viewer can see the left thigh and the body buttocks of the patient. A woman on the left, who by tradition appears as the mother of the patient covers her eyes and is not able to observe what is happening. Dr. Gross appears confident about the outcome of the procedure, He calmly turns and addresses the students, including Thomas Eakins, who is at the right edge of the canvas. Eakins chose Dr. Gross as the subject in the piece thoughtfully. Dr. Gross had enormous contributions to the field of medicine. He was also a prominent leader in Philadelphia and at one point be became an advisor to the US Surgeon General. Dr. Gross wrote a handbook that instructed the Union battlefield surgeons.
The Reception of the Work
Eakins did not have a definite buyer for the work. Nonetheless, he poured himself for the work and spent a year on the painting. Eakins spend more time prepping with six small portraits of Dr. Gross and an oil sketch of the final scene. In April 1875, Eakins wrote a letter to his friend Earl Shinn regarding the painting. Eakins informed his friend about the new picture and the way it was far much better than anything else he had made. He further noted that he had the greatest hopes for “The Gross Clinic” painting ( 1).
Specifically, Eakins hoped to unveil the work at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. However, the selection committee for the Centenni...

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