Returning to Philadelphia from Europe in 1870, Eakins began a series of representations of the sport of sculling, a subject for which he is uniquely identified. This is the first major work in that series of paintings and watercolors. It is believed to commemorate the victory of Max Schmitt (1843–1900), an attorney and skilled amateur rower, in an important race on the Schuylkill River in October 1870. Also an avid rower, Eakins depicted himself pulling the oars of a scull in the middle distance.
Signature: [on scull in background]: EAKINS / 1871
Max Schmitt, Philadelphia; his wife, Mrs. Louise S. M. Nache, until 1930; Mrs. Thomas Eakins, Philadelphia, 1930–33; with Babcock Galleries, New York, 1930–31; with Milch Galleries, New York, 1934