Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916)
Oil on canvas
30 x 23 in. (76.2 x 58.4 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1923 (23.139)
Susan Eakins (18511938) was the daughter of Hannah Trimble Gardner Macdowell and William H. Macdowell, a noted engraver in Philadelphia. He encouraged the artistic interests of Susan and her sister Elizabeth (later Mrs. Louis N. Kenton, 18581953). Susan reportedly first met Eakins in 1876 and resolved to study with him. She enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts that same year, and remained an active and successful student until her marriage to Eakins in 1884, at which time family life took precedence over her artistic endeavors. She posed for several portraits by her husband. This particular one was apparently begun not long after their marriage. The artist had access to the painting for several years and may have reworked it as late as 1889. The scene is set in Eakins' studio at 1330 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, to which he moved early in 1884.