Monday, July 19, 2010

Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic Back On View


After a year of conservation and restoration work, Thomas Eakins’ painting Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic) is going back on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The painting is considered to be the greatest American painting of the 19th century.

Because of the work done on it to remove and fix problems caused by age and past restoration and conservation work, the painting is going to look different from how you saw it before, either in person, or in any art text book you ever had. It’s intended to look now more like how the artist painted it.

This painting was the object of an expensive battle to keep it in its native Philadelphia. When the previous owner, Thomas Jefferson University, decided to sell it, it made the deal with the National Gallery of Art and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The painting would leave its home city and move to rural Arkansas. The $68 million purchase, a record for pre-WWII American painting, was being funded with the assistance of Alice Walton (of the Wal-Mart Waltons). Fortunately, the Thomas Jefferson University agreed to sell it instead to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts if they could match the price. They agreed and the painting stayed in Philadelphia.

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