Thomas Eakins (American, 18441916)
Platinum print; 9 1/8 x 12 3/4 in. (23.1 x 32.5 cm)
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1943 (43.87.19)
In January 1886, Thomas Eakins removed the loincloth from a male model while lecturing about the pelvis to an anatomy class that included female students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Angry protests by parents and students soon forced him to resign from the Academy at the request of the board. Following Eakins' departure, however, thirty-eight of his male students resigned from the Academy and formed the Art Students' League of Philadelphia, providing him with a new forum for his life classes and for the creation of many of the paintings and photographs of the 1880s, including this nude study of Bill Duckett, an amateur athlete. The relaxed atmosphere of the Art Students' League, where Eakins and his students governed themselves, permitted greater freedom in the photography of models than had prevailed at the Pennsylvania Academy. This photograph is an excellent example of Eakins' unabashed exploration of frontal male nudity.