Woodmere Art Museum

(above: James Toogood, "The Woodmere Art Museum," watercolor on paper, 18 1/4" x 26," gift of the artist)

Philadelphia, PA




Susan Macdowell Eakins

Sept. 16 - Dec. 9, 2001


Long in the shadow of her more famous husband, Thomas Eakins, painter Susan Macdowell Eakins was nonetheless an exceptionally talented artist, whose own career took a back seat to that of her spouse. Before marrying Thomas Eakins in 1884, she was his student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she underwent the same rigorous training required of every Eakins student. Susan Macdowell Eakins has the distinction of winning the Academy's Mary Smith Prize in 1879 for the best painting by a matriculating woman artist. Other winners of the Smith Prize included Cecilia Beaux, Alice Barber Stephens, and Carol H. Beck. This focus exhibition brings together 30 works from private and public collections, and coincides with the Thomas Eakins retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and an exhibition of Thomas Eakin's drawings at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. (left: Susan Macdowell Eakins, The Tennis Player, 1933, oil on academy board, 18 5/8 x 15 inches, Canada Library, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.)

Dr. Jeanette M. Toohey, Chief Curator, The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida, has written an essay in the exhibition catalogue titled Susan Macdowell Eakins: A Modest Reappraisal. In her essay, Dr. Toohey says of Susan Eakins: "Her disposition and considerable skills led to an early assimilation of the more esoteric components of the artistic endeavor. Arguably the greater challenge was for her to realize her true artistic self; that is, to explore those avenues that held interest or promise whether or not they conformed to expectations. Her artistic legacy remains as multi-dimensional as her efforts to secure her husband's reputation. Happily the newly discovered artistic and archival evidence ­ considered in the context of established scholarship and its bases ­ compels us to continue to study the quiet manifestations of a lifelong commitment to study and growth as well as an intrepid spirit buoyed by inquiry and experimentation." (right: Susan Macdowell Eakins, The Bibliophile, 1932, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches, Canada Library, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa)

rev. 10/31/01

Read more about the Woodmere Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/3/11

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