Wrestlers by Thomas Eakins

Realism, Early American Modernism
Oil on canvas
Collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, USA

Two youths locked in a wrestling hold are the focal point of this painting. In the left background, a wrestler uses a rowing machine, and on the right another young athlete is standing next to a suited coach, who points at the action of the wrestling figures. Eakins returned to the theme of the sporting event late on his career, however unlike the rowing scenes of his earlier work, his later paintings included boxing and wrestling. Using his art to explore movement Eakins shows the height of the action between the two figures, their bodies locked in motion. ‘Wrestlers’ highlights Eakins modern approach in his works. He never shied away from depictions of the naked body, and this painting is possibly his most direct and confrontational depiction of the male form. It is also the last painting he created portraying the male nude.

Thomas Eakins
Realism, Early American Modernism
Born: 25 July 1844, Pennsylvania, USA
Nationality: American
Died: 25 June 1916, Pennsylvania, USA

Eakins painted portraits and sporting scenes with resolute Realism, primarily in the second half of the 19th century. His style and techniques renounced the idealized and romantic depictions and instead advocated the precise investigation of the human form and the natural world. From the its beginning he embraced photography as a tool to prepare compositions and his bold and resolute paintings greatly influenced the following generation of American Realists known as the Ashcan School

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