Thomas Eakins. The Agnew Clinic. 1889. Oil on Canvas. Philadelphia.
After posting one of Eakins’s paintings last week I decided to look at his work a little more closely. In doing so, I saw many portraits that he painted. While they were all interesting and beautiful, it is his paintings that illustrate movement that I like best. I found this oil on canvas and Eakins’s largest work intriguing as it captures what seems to be an intense moment in time. I like the composition and contrast of the painting with the brighter part of the painting in the bottom right corner that catches your eye immediately and how your eyes seem to go from that corner to the man standing alone in white and then slowly moves up as the suits of the men become darker. I also found the faces of the “audience” to be interesting as some of them seem almost bored, while others are watching intently.
Eakins painted this to honor surgeon David Hayes Agnes (who is standing to the left with the scalpel) when he retired from teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. The other doctors and nurses illustrated were real people who worked with Agnes and the men observing were medical students at the University of Pennsylvania. Also in the audience is Eakins himself, although, it is thought that his wife painted him.
Even though the painting is extremely accurate and is obviously in a medical setting this painting was considered controversial as it depicted a partially nude woman being observed by a room full of men.