Thomas Eakins (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1844–1916 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Oil on canvas
30 x 34 1/4 in. (76.2 x 87 cm)
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 764
Eakins probably had his first drawing lessons from his father, a professional calligrapher and teacher of penmanship at Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia. Here, Benjamin Eakins (1818–1899) is shown engaged in copying a document in an old-fashioned “copperplate” script. While the serious and affectionate portrayal of an aging craftsman is saturated with Rembrandtesque eloquence and nostalgia, Eakins’s delineation of his father’s head and hands reveals his skills of observation and description. Benjamin Eakins’s wise investments gave his son lifelong financial security.
Signature: [on edge of table at lower right]: EAKINS
the artist, Philadelphia, until died 1916; the artist's wife, Susan Macdowell Eakins, Philadelphia, 1916–1917