Oil on canvas
27 3/8 X 36 3/8
Paintings, Collection Highlights
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Purchased by the Friends of Art, Fort Worth Art Association, 1925; acquired by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1990, from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through grants and donations from the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, the Anne Burnett and Charles Tandy Foundation, Capital Cities/ABC Foundation, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The R. D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation and the people of Fort Worth
As head of one of the most prestigious American art schools, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Eakins made the study of the nude integral to his teaching. He was inspired by classical depictions of Arcadia, an area of unspoiled nature where men could bathe and frolic together. He was also interested in scientific analyses of bodies in motion. The arrangement of his swimmers in this work suggests the sequential movement of a single figure.
Because the subjects of this painting were identifiable as the artist and his students (Eakins is at the right swimming toward his dog, Harry), negative reactions to the work’s subject matter overshadowed his artistic intentions. Mounting charges of indecency related to his teaching practices eventually forced the artist to resign from his post at the academy.