Essay about The Gross Clinic

1867 Words Mar 24th, 2012 8 Pages
The Gross Clinic, by Thomas Eakins

HA-314-801 The History of American Art

“I never knew of but one artist, and this is Tom Eakins, who could resist the temptation to see what they think ought to be rather than what is.” – Walt Whitman
Thomas Eakins, was one the most important painters of American Art History. He also was an photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator. In this essay, you will explore his life, his works and one of his most famous paintings' which considered shocking by viewers: The Gross Clinic.
Thomas Eakins was born in 1844, he lived most of his life in his home city of Philadelphia. After graduating high school he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He simultaneously took anatomy courses at
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The canvas depicts him performing a surgery in the University ampitheatre. He is removing a portion of a diseased bone from the thigh of a 14-year-old boy, whose mother looks on in horror. His son stands in the doorway, and Eakins himself is seated in the gallery on the right side of the painting. There are 28 portraits in the painting -- all depictions of actual individuals. The painting was considered shocking in its day, and indeed still inspires shock in the viewer who first sees it.

As chair of surgery from 1856 to 1882, Dr. Gross inspired thousands of Jefferson medical students and assistants with his articulate lectures, calm judgment, mechanical dexterity, and contributions to surgical technique. Gross was author or editor of hundreds of articles and many books. His two-volume System of Surgery of 1859, perhaps his best known work, appeared in six editions and in several foreign languages. Gross was deeply involved in local, national, and international medical societies and was a founder and office holder of many.

Thomas Eakins was aged thirty-one and had never before attempted such an ambitious composition when he requested Dr. Gross, then seventy years old and at the pinnacle of his profession in 1875, to approve his conception for a portrait of the physician in his surgical clinic. The young artist's confidence must have stemmed from his knowledge of anatomy and his prior experiences in the medical environment. He hoped to establish his

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