A 9" x 12" reproduction of Thomas Eakins John Biglen in a Single Shell as a part of a late 1940s collection of the "World's Great Paintings" with title and commentary on reverse of the print and in description below.

THOMAS EAKINS (American School 1844-1916)

When Thomas Eakins left Philadelphia for Paris at the age of twenty-two, he was already an accomplished draughtsman, with a practical knowledge of anatomy. He had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, then the leading art school in the United States, and had worked under the noted surgeon, Joseph Pancoast, at the Jefferson Medical College. In Paris, Eakins studied with Gérôme, academician of the academicians, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he could at least paint freely from the model without having her masked to hide her identity, and in the presence of a chaperone, as was the case back home. Eakins took from Gérôme the sound technical training he had to offer and was apparently untouched by his master's insipid taste for the pseudoclassical.

Like Courbet, he believed an artist should paint what he knew, the persons and places familiar to him. He was a naturalist, within the framework of the restraint or, if you will, the dignity of the America of his time.

Yet he was not restrained or dignified enough, apparently, for what was also the prudery and stuffiness of the times. Several of his clinic pictures were rejected because they were thought too literal; finished portraits were refused because they were too honest, too lacking in prettiness, to please the customers. He even had to resign from the Pennsylvania Academy, where he began to teach in the middle eighties, because his posing the male and female figures side by side was "misunderstood." Eakins went on in his own serene, stern way, intent on achieving a scientifically accurate art, on painting people "the way they looked," disdaining the "studio likeness," the sentimental and the falsely aesthetic.

He was the true ancestor of the realistic school of American painters to come later. John Biglen in a Single Shell may be seen in the Yale University Art Gallery.