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Four Studies of a Male and Female Nude, circa 1885
[Philadelphia, 1885. A remarkable set of four original silver gelatin photographs (9 x 9 cm). Consisting of two studies of a male nude, seated on a chair upon a table, and two studies of a female nude standing on a table. All four with the word "Lemly" in pencil on the rear. Slightly silvered at the edges, else near fine. These nude studies are of they type made by Thomas Eakins and students in his circle at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and the Art Students' League of Philadelphia in the mid-1880s. They were acquired from an estate in Camden County, New Jersey, which came with a bronze sculpture by Samuel Murray, a close friend and protege of Eakins, and his assistant at the Art Students' League. The photographer, whether Eakins himself or someone in his circle, cannot be determined with certainty, but the evidence points to Eakins. Gordon Hendricks, who organized the first exhibition of Eakins' photographs at the PAFA in 1969, provides two relevant clues. In the exhibition catalog he writes, "...how do we know the photographs in the exhibition are Eakins'? The answer is to be found in two areas: first, the provenance, and second, the quality and relevance. A number of the photographs were signed by the artist himself [most were not], and the overwhelming majority have come from his immediate family or from two pupils, Samuel Murray or Charles Bregler." These four photographs meet both conditions of quality and relevance, and the Samuel Murray provenance. The studio and identity of the models is also uncertain. They were likely not taken at either the PAFA studios or the Art Students League in Philadelphia. But it is known that Eakins made photographic studies in the studio at his home on Mount Vernon Street, and in a studio at 1330 Chestnut Street, which he shared with Samuel Murray. However, the few published photographs from these two studios do not reveal enough of the interior background to make a positive identification. The female nude could quite possibly be the same person pictured in the exhibition catalog for the great Thomas Eakins exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2001-02: "Female Nude with a Mask at the PAFA, c.1883" (page 179, plate 134). Seen as Jungian archetypes, both bear an uncanny resemblance to the Venus of Dolni Vestonice, and both bear a striking resemblance to the known Eakins model Ms. Weda Cook, who is pictured in a photograph by Eakins from the collection of Gordon Hendricks: "Weda Cook with Academy plaster cast" (figure 40; 164) from the 1969 exhibition catalog. A rare and possibly unique set, revealing a hitherto unknown series of photographic studies from the school of Thomas Eakins.
      [Bookseller: Between the Covers- Rare Books, Inc. ABA]
Last Found On: 2018-02-18           Check availability:      IOBABooks    

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