In Focus

Liebermann's Swimmers and Eakins's Swimming (1885)

In the following excerpt, Richard Brettell points out that this representation of male bathers swimming is directly analogous to an iconic American painting in the collection at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Thomas Eakins's Swimming_ (1885). The connection between the two paintings extends beyond subject matter and includes their origins and contemporary reception._

Like Liebermann, Eakins rooted his own study of the male nude in his training in France, where he had worked in Jean-Léon Gérôme’s studio in the late 1860s. But it was not until a commission of 1884 that he had the freedom to paint what is one of his principal masterpieces. Created after a long period of study, which included drawings, oil sketches, and photographs, Eakins’s painting was rejected by its patron and subsequently led to the artist’s dismissal as a professor of art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It too languished in the painter’s collection, having appeared in two inconsequential exhibitions during his lifetime, and was sold to the city of Fort Worth by his widow in 1925. Indeed, each of the major works in this genre that I have discussed failed, and each remained unsold during the artist’s life.

Excerpt from

Richard R. Brettell, "A Liebermann for Dallas: Max Liebermann's Swimmers," in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism at the Dallas Museum of Art, ed. Heather MacDonald (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013), 44.

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