John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Art on Sunday: The Gross Clinic

Thomas Eakins (1844 – 1916)
The Gross Clinic, 1875
Oil on canvas
Eakins, The Gross Clinic
Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia

This painting has been in the news lately. Bought in 1878 by Thomas Jefferson University for $200, it was co-purchased this week by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the not-yet-open Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, for $68 million dollars. The sale is not actually final yet; because Thomas Eakins is a Philadelphia native and the painting is considered one of Philadelphia's cultural treasures, local art museums and government institutions have 45 days to match the offer.

This painting is known as The Gross Clinic not because it depicts a bloody surgery being performed before a live audience, but because the bushy-haired man standing beside the operating table is one Dr. Samuel Gross, who served as Jefferson Medical College chair of surgery from 1856 to 1882. The thin, mustachioed man seen over Dr. Gross's right shoulder is Eakins himself, who studied anatomy under Gross in 1874.

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