• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2058

    Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

    4 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 62

    Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)

    Head of a Warrior; and Seated Nude: A Double-Sided Work

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)
    Head of a Warrior; and Seated Nude: A Double-Sided Work
    the front, inscribed by another hand 'Drawing by/Thomas Eakins' (lower left)
    pencil and charcoal on paper
    23¾ x 17¾ in. (60.3 x 45.1 cm.)
    Executed circa 1869.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    *This lot may be exempt from sales tax as set forth in the Sales Tax Notice in the back of the catalogue.
    Thomas Eakins' exquisite, double-sided drawing is masterfully rendered in pencil and charcoal, capturing the physical strength and beauty of the human form in a brilliant example of American Realism. The breathtaking sense of naturalism in both the warrior and the seated nude reveals Eakins' painstaking attention to the details and nuances of the human body and his appreciation of its intricacies and beauty. Eakins specialized in portraiture and figurative works, studying anatomy at the Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia where he developed a keen interest in human physiognomy and form. He often worked directly from nude models and approached the human body scientifically, carefully examining faces and bodies and closely observing the appearance of skin and muscles during movement. His fascination with the human form prefigured his influence as an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he taught from 1873 to 1886, encouraging his students to study human anatomy and figure composition directly from life. Eakins' mastery of form, tone, proportion and shading reflects the influence of Jean-Léon Gérôme, of whom he was a student from 1866 to 1869 at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His studio practice often transgressed Victorian notions of propriety and moral boundaries; nevertheless, he pursued his research and observation of human anatomy and even employed photography in order to achieve the most stunning demonstrations of naturalism. The present work--in its superior technical draftsmanship, the luminous quality of the charcoal medium, and the flawless rendering of the human body--confirms Eakins as the finest nineteenth century American artists of figurative works.

    Special Notice

    No sales tax is due on the purchase price of this lot if it is picked up or delivered in the State of New York.


    Provenance

    The artist.
    Susan MacDowell Eakins, wife of the artist, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    Babcock Galleries, New York, by 1942.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1948.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation*


    Literature

    L. Goodrich, Thomas Eakins, New York, 1933, p. 161, no. 18 (as Nude Man Seated and A Warrior's Head from the Antique).
    M. Chamberlin-Hellman, Thomas Eakins as a Teacher, Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1981, pp. 54-55.
    R. McKinney, Thomas Eakins, New York, 1942, p. 87, illustrated.
    W.I. Homer, Thomas Eakins: His Life and Art, New York, 1992, p. 31, nos. 26, 27, each side illustrated.
    Babcock Galleries, Thomas Eakins: Art and Archive, exhibition checklist, New York, 1992 (as Seated Nude and Head of a Warrior).
    E. Braun, Manet to Matisse: The Hillman Family Collection, New York, 1994, pp. 72-75, no. 17, illustrated.
    T. Eakins and W.I. Homer, ed., The Paris Letters, Princeton, New Jersey, 2009, illustrated.


    Exhibited

    Bronx, New York, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Paintings Drawings and Sculpture from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, April 10-May 2, 1972.
    Jamaica, New York, Jamaica Arts Center, Master Drawings from New York Private Collections, October 26-December 1, 1982 (as Head of Pericles and Male Nude).
    New York, New York University, Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, American Drawings and Watercolors: 1870-1920, January 12-February 13, 1982 (as Head of Pericles and Male Nude).
    New York, Babcock Galleries, Thomas Eakins: Art and Archives, October 29-December 5, 1992.