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Description: Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures
PublisherYale University Art Gallery
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No major project is ever the result of a single individual’s efforts. My first thanks must go to the enlightened and generous financial support of The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. I would especially like to acknowledge John Cook and Ellen Holtzman and, for his encouragement, H. Christopher Luce. I am deeply grateful for the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia and Leonard Marx Publication Fund, and The Andrew Mellon Foundation. Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., and Jan and Frederick Mayer generously came forward to make certain that the exhibition would be produced without compromise.
This book and exhibition build on the contributions of scholars who have written with perception on Eakins, many of whom are cited in the essays published here. Beginning in 1933 with the pioneering critical biography of Eakins by Lloyd Goodrich—the earliest comprehensive biography of any American artist—and revised by Goodrich almost fifty years later, scholars have continued to add to our understanding of Eakins’ life and art. In more recent times, the contributions of Kathleen A. Foster, Michael Fried, Elizabeth Johns, Elizabeth Milroy, Darrel Sewell, and John Wilmerding have opened new paths to this complex artist. I am particularly indebted to Johns’ discussion of the meaning of rowing in Eakins’ work, and to Foster’s interpretations of the subject in her forthcoming book.
The reader of the present volume will find that the rowing paintings, like all great works of art, lend themselves to multiple interpretations and approaches. I am grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge here the contributions of my fellow essayists: Martin A. Berger, visiting assistant professor of art history, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Christina Currie, independent paintings conservator; and Amy B. Werbel, assistant professor of fine arts, St. Michael’s College. Their rigorous analyses both celebrate and cast new light on Eakins’ achievement.
Working on this project not only introduced me to the beauty of rowing, but led me to the extraordinary community of rowers, many of whom contributed significantly to my understanding of this strange and wonderful sport. My sincerest thanks to Thomas E. Weil, Jr., the foremost collector of rowing prints, whose enthusiasm and love for rowing are contagious, and whose generosity of spirit, depth of knowledge, and unfailing courtesy in answering any rowing question, no matter how trivial, saved me from egregious errors.
I am deeply indebted to William Lanouette, the author of a forthcoming biography of the champion oarsmen John and Barney Biglin, for graciously sharing his information with me, and for never once showing the slightest irritation at being interrupted at his own work to clarify a point. David H. Vogel, head coach of the Yale University men’s heavyweight crew, helped me see Eakins’ pictures through the eyes of a rower. Peter Sutton, Linda Thomas, and Edward S. Cooke led me to books about the rowing experience. Strangers became instant colleagues: while walking along the banks of the Schuylkill River one spring day I had the good fortune to meet Ted A. Nash, Olympic coach of the Penn Athletic Club, who, with Joseph A. Sweeney, communications operation manager of the City of Philadelphia, helped me identify the specific locations depicted in each of the paintings.
Many people offered crucial assistance at important junctures. Stuart Feld of Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York, was instrumental in helping us secure a critical loan. Sylvia Yount, curator of collections at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, was most generous and supportive of our requests. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Darrel Sewell, curator of American art, offered every assistance and courtesy. I am grateful to him for putting us in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Dietrich II, who kindly allowed us to reproduce their original photographs of Eakins and Max Schmitt. Mike Hammer was most helpful during our research visits. W. Douglass Paschall was of invaluable assistance in compiling a comprehensive list of the exhibitions to which Eakins contributed rowing works. Tom Loughlan graciously undertook the tedious task of checking every inscription. Thanks also to Phyllis Rosenzweig, associate curator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Annette McConnell, McCord Museum of Canadian History. Graeme King of King Boatworks kindly arranged the loan of the actual sculls in the exhibition.
Our sister venues for this exhibition were ideal partners. At the National Gallery, Earl A. Powell III, director, enthusiastically supported the idea of the exhibition from the beginning. I had the pleasure of working with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., and Franklin Kelly, the curators of American and British paintings; Dodge Thompson, chief of exhibitions, and Nancy Breuer and Naomi Remes in the exhibitions office; and Frances Smyth, senior editor. The Cleveland Museum of Art offered every support, and I thank Robert P. Bergman, director, William Talbot, deputy director, and David Steinberg, assistant curator of paintings, for their generous participation.
I am deeply indebted to my colleagues at the Yale University Art Gallery. The project was initiated under Mary Gardner Neill, now director of the Seattle Art Museum. Her successor, Susan M. Vogel, The Henry J. Heinz II Director, has been supportive in every way. I greatly appreciate the efforts of Louisa Cunningham, business manager; registrar Susan Frankenbach and associate registrar Carolyn Padwa; conservator Mark Aronson; Daphne Deeds, curator of exhibitions and programs; and Janet Saleh Dickson and Mary Kordak, curator and associate curator of education, respectively. Anna DiFonzo, administrative assistant, typed innumerable drafts of the manuscript and attended to myriad details associated with loan requests and photographs with amazing efficiency. Dana Goodyear, bursary assistant, cheerfully ran errands and helped in every way Suzanne Warner handled photography orders with her usual efficiency. Joseph Szaszfai and Carl Kaufman responded graciously to photograph requests. Patricia Kane and Lisa Newman offered computer expertise at moments of crisis. I thank Richard Moore and his expert installation crew, Burrus Harlow, Maishe Dickman, and Nancy Valley. I particularly appreciate Marie Weltzien’s seamless coordination of press coverage and public events, all executed with her usual flair and wit.
During the course of this project, I was fortunate to have the research assistance of two graduate students, and I warmly thank Jessica Smith and Liena Vayzman for their important contributions.
Mark Aronson, Nancy Cooper, Robin Jaffee Frank, William Lanouette, Thomas E. Weil, Jr., Marie Weltzien, and Marlene Worhach kindly read various drafts of the manuscript, making suggestions that greatly clarified the final text. For allowing Eakins’ rowing pictures to speak for themselves, I thank Sarah Buie, for her evocative and elegant exhibition design at Yale.
Beyond this supportive community, I would single out several individuals without whom the book could not have taken shape. Robin Jaffee Frank, assistant curator of American paintings and sculpture at Yale, has my warmest appreciation for the critical role she played in the realization of the book; her perspicacity and tact, joined to limitless energy, kept us moving forward. My gratitude to Sheila Schwartz for her exemplary and sensitive editing, and her sense of humor; this book has benefited immeasurably from her guidance. In checking the endnotes, Elise K. Kenney was tireless in her pursuit of accuracy. It has been a pleasure to work again with Judy Metro at the Yale University Press. Special thanks must go to Greer Allen and Ken Scaglia, whose responsiveness to and respect for Eakins’ art illuminate the design of these pages; that they created this beautiful book under extreme deadline pressures is proof that exceptionally talented individuals have magical powers.
Finally, my deepest thanks to my husband, Jack Cooper. It was he, after all, with his unfaltering patience, who helped me keep my craft on course.
The Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture
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