Like other academically trained American artists in the 1880s, Eakins explored classical themes but without the typical narrative contrivances and idealized models. Dating from the time of his appointment as director of the school of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Eakins’s series of Arcadian works declared his commitment to the nude as the basis of art and art instruction. To execute this work, he projected photographic images with a magic lantern onto the canvas, and incised reference marks into the pigment to guide his brush. The female figure at left has been identified as Susan Macdowell, the artist’s future wife.
Signature: [on the back of lining of canvas by another hand]: T. Eakins Pinxit
William Merritt Chase, New York, by died 1916; his estate, 1916–1917; sale, American Art Galleries, New York, 17 May 1917, no. 335; LeRoy Ireland, New York, 1917; John M. Greene, Philadelphia, by 1923; sale, American Art Galleries, New York, 14 Nov. 1923, no. 88; Thomas E. Finger, New York, by 1929–1933; with Babcock Galleries, New York, 1929–1930; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York, by 1936–died 1967