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An Eakins Masterpiece Restored: Seeing The Gross Clinic Anew

An Eakins Masterpiece Restored: Seeing The Gross Clinic Anew

by Kathleen A. Foster and Mark S. Tucker

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Thomas Eakins is acknowledged as one of the preeminent American painters of the nineteenth 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, 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 to donate funds to keep it in Philadelphia through a joint acquisition by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Kathleen A. Foster and Mark S. Tucker update the story of The Gross Clinic to the present day, drawing on discoveries made in 2009–10 while looking 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 understood anew.


About the Authors
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.

Paperback
184 pages
8 4/5 x 3/5 x 10 9/10 in.
Yale University Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-0300179798