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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)


Photo: Susan Cole


1882-83; this cast 1883 or later

Thomas Eakins

Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1844; died Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1916

Knitting was this celebrated painter’s first sculpture commission. Eakins produced it as part of a request for ornamental plaques to grace the fireplace of a grand Philadelphia home. The project was abruptly cancelled and thus proved a major disappointment for the artist, yet he considered Knitting among his most significant achievements. The plaque combines everything that defines Eakins’ art: his command of the human form in action; situating figures precisely in space; attention to specific details of time and place to achieve realism; connecting historical traditions with modern life; and talent for capturing the intangible quality of human introspection.

Plaster relief, painted
18 1/2 x 15 x 4 1/2 in. (47 x 38.1 x 11.4cm)
Gift from a private collection
Provenance: Susan Macdowell Eakins (1851-1938), Philadelphia, as gift to Charles Bregler (1864-1958), Asbury Park, N.J.; Mary L. Bregler (Charles Bregler widow), 1958-1998; Mary L. Bregler estate [Christie's East, New York, April 19, 1998, lot 51]; (private collection, Calif., 1998-2004); [Heritage Galleries and Auctioneers, Dallas, Texas, "American Art and Illustrators," Oct. 29, 2004, lot 24038]; Tom and Ann Barwick, Seattle, 2004-present
Photo: Susan Cole
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5- Sept. 9, 2007. No catalogue.
Published Referencescf. Siegl, Theodore, "Spinning and Knitting: Two Sculptural Reliefs by Thomas Eakins." Bulletin, Philadelphia Museum of Art 74, no. 321 (June 1978): pp. 19-23.

cf. Bockrath, Mark F., Virginia N. Naudé, and Debbie Hess Norris, "Examination, Technical Analysis, and Treatment of his Works in the Charles Bregler Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts." Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 31, no. 1 (1992): pp. 51-64.

cf. "Knitting" and "Spinning. " In American Sculpture in the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, by Susan James-Gadzinski and Mary Mullen Cunningham. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press in association with the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1997, pp. 96-99.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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