The Chess Players
Thomas Eakins (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1844–1916 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Oil on wood
11 3/4 x 16 3/4 in. (29.8 x 42.6 cm)
Gift of the artist, 1881
In this painting, the artist’s father watches a chess game between two friends in a Renaissance Revival parlor of a Philadelphia home. Eakins honored his father with a Latin inscription on the drawer of the chess table, which translates as “Benjamin Eakins’s son painted this in ’76.” A reproduction of a painting by Eakins’s principal French teacher, Jean-Léon Gérôme, hangs over the mantel. Eakins adhered to Gérôme’s academic lessons in his careful spatial construction and meticulous detail. In 1881 The Chess Players became the first work to be accepted by the Metropolitan Museum as a gift from a living artist.