Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916)
Oil on canvas
32 1/4 x 46 1/4 in. (81.9 x 117.5 cm)
Purchase, The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund and George D. Pratt Gift, 1934 (34.92)
Shortly after his return from studies in Europe in July 1870, Eakins began to paint rowing pictures. This work is among the most celebrated of those painted between 1870 and 1874. It depicts Eakins' boyhood friend Max Schmitt (18431900), a champion oarsman, in a scull on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Eakins depicted himself in the distant boat, rowing away from Schmitt. The bridges behind the rowers can be identified as the Girard Avenue Bridge and the Connecting Railroad Bridge, respectively. It is believed that this work commemorates Max Schmitt's victory in a single-scull competition on October 5, 1870. A number of drawings for various parts of this composition exist.