[Thomas Eakins and John Laurie Wallace on a Beach]
Thomas Eakins (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1844–1916 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
25.5 x 20.4 cm (10 1/16 x 8 1/16 in.), irregular
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1943
Not on view
The great American painter and photographer Thomas Eakins was devoted to the scientific study of the human form and committed to its truthful representation. While he and his students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts were surrounded by casts of classical sculpture, Eakins declared that he did not like "a long study of casts. . . . At best they are only imitations, and an imitation of imitations cannot have so much life as an imitation of life itself." Photography provided an obvious solution. This photograph, in which Eakins and a student affected the elegant contrapposto stances of classical sculpture, was probably taken during an excursion with students to Manasquan Inlet at Point Pleasant, New Jersey, during the summer of 1883. Valuing his photographs not only as studies for paintings but also for their own sake, Eakins carefully printed the best images on platinum paper. In this case, he went to the additional trouble of enlarging the original, horizontally formatted image and cropping it vertically to better contain the perfectly balanced figures.