"An Eakins Masterpiece Restored" by Kathleen A.              Foster

An Eakins Masterpiece Restored Seeing "The Gross Clinic" Anew Kathleen A. Foster, Mark S. Tucker

Publication date:
03 Jul 2012
Yale University Press
184 pages: 279 x 229mm
70 color + 35 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) is acknowledged as one of the preeminent American painters of the 19th century. As a young artist in 1875 he prepared a monumental painting for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia of Dr. Samuel D. Gross of Jefferson Medical College performing a surgery.

Rejected by the selection committee for being too gruesome, The Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic) is hailed today as the artist's masterpiece. Purchased by the medical college, the work was a fixture there until 2006, when its threatened sale prompted thousands of supporters to donate funds to keep it in Philadelphia through a joint acquisition by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Curator Kathleen A. Foster and conservator Mark Tucker update the story of The Gross Clinic from its creation to the present day. They draw on discoveries made during the 2009-10 project to look more deeply into the history, aesthetics, and technique of the painting, research that formed the basis for its first restoration in nearly fifty years, also recounted in this volume. Through their discussion, complemented by interpretations from the perspectives of medical and cultural history, this celebrated painting can now be seen and understood anew.

Kathleen A. Foster is The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mark S. Tucker is vice chair of conservation and The Aronson Senior Conservator of Paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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