Original Document
Original Document
Letter in Defense of Thomas Eakins, 1886.

Professor Thomas Eakins, who for several years past has been instructor in charge of the classes in painting and sculpture at the above-named institution, has resigned his position, much to the regret of the majority of his pupils. It seems that there is a small faction of students in the professor's classes who are opposed to his methods of study, and they have been eagerly seeking for an opportunity to place their own favorites in power.

Gratitude for the good results which have been attained by Mr. Eakins does not seem to have been thought of by his opponents, and a feeble charge was trumped up that he had insisted upon an excess of nudity in study from the life model, and made an unnecessary exposure of the "subject" in the anatomical class! Art students who attend the classes at the Pennsylvania Academy are supposed to understand that it is a school intended for professionals and those amateurs who may have the good sense to avail themselves of the advantages of study from the nude model.

If Mr. Eakins offended the modesty of the women and men of his class by an excess of realism, it was intended for their benefit, and they should not have overlooked the well-known fact that he always had their welfare at heart. When the study of nude models met with so much opposition some years ago, he procured a room at his own expense and there gathered a little band of students around him whose rapid progress in art soon proved to the public the error of wasting time by attempting to teach drawing and painting in any other than on those true principles which he himself had learned from his master, Gerome. Many of Mr. Eakins' pupils say that if he is not reinstated at the Academy they will leave it and form an Art League similar to that which has been so successful in New York.

The best wishes of all who love truthful study will attend the formation of the students' class, and whatever Mr. Eakins' errors may have been, we most earnestly wish that he may be forgiven by his enemies, whom [sic] it is to be hoped will never commit any greater sins than those of which he has been accused.

Credit: The Art Interchange, February 17, 1886, in Gordon Hendrics, The Life and Work of Thomas Eakins (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1974).
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