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Recent Acquisitions: Thomas Eakins, Ecorché: Relief of a Horse (Josephine), 1882/1979

Hood Quarterly, spring/summer 2010

This bronze relief by the renowned American realist Thomas Eakins (below) is an ecorché—a depiction that shows the muscles of a body without skin. In a tradition dating back at least to the Renaissance and widely adopted in French academies in the nineteenth century, such renderings served as important tools in teaching anatomy. This expertly modeled relief depicts Josephine, a beloved mare who belonged to Fairman Rogers, a wealthy Philadelphia civil engineer and professor who was Eakins’s most loyal supporter on the board of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Eakins taught. Eakins included Josephine in his painting commissioned by Rogers, May Morning in the Park (The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand) (1879–80, Philadelphia Museum of Art). After the mare’s death around 1882, Rogers donated her carcass to the academy for Eakins to use for teaching. A committed realist, Eakins would be dismissed from his professorship at the academy in 1886 (three years after Rogers retired from the board) owing to his insistence on teaching from the nude model.

Mr. and Mrs. Stuart P. Feld donated the original plaster for this work to the National Gallery of Art in 2004. This cast is one of ten works of art that they recently donated to the Hood, including drawings by American artists Oscar Bluemner, Jervis McEntee, and Edward Seager as well as the French early modernist Jeanne Rij-Rousseau.


Hood Museum