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Thomas Eakins

Untitled (Male Nudes Boxing)

Thomas Eakins

Thomas Eakins

Untitled (Male Nudes Boxing)

Untitled (Male Nudes Boxing)

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Thomas Eakins

1844 - 1916

Untitled (Male Nudes Boxing)

albumen print, mounted to card, with Olympia Galleries’ notations in ink on the reverse, framed, circa 1883

image: 3 ¾ by 4 ¾ in. (9.5 by 12.1 cm.)

frame: 15 ¾ by 16 ¾ in. (40 by 42.5 cm.)

Please note the colors and shades in the online catalogue illustration may vary depending on screen settings. 

Grading this albumen print on a scale of 1 to 10 - a 10 being a print that has rich, deep dark tones and highlights that retain all their original detail - this print rates a strong 9 or 10. The darkest areas are a rich chocolate brown, the highlights are creamy, and crisp detail is visible throughout the image. There is an area that appears somewhat lighter in the upper portion, which may be a feature of the negative and not specific to this print. 

This photograph is in generally excellent condition. The photograph is not trimmed to the image, and the thin margins are somewhat yellow. Visible only under raking light are subtle scuffs. 

The mount is appropriately age-darkened and there are adhesive remnants and tiny tack-holes along the edges. None of these affect the image or the overall appearance of this photograph. 

The following is written in ink on the reverse of the mount in an unidentified hand: 'eakins/olympia galleries, ltd./philadelphia, cat #0-17.' The annotation 'X-7' and '[Lot] 506' are in pencil. The reverse is soiled.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

The photographer to Edward H. Coates, chairman of the Committee on Instruction at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, circa 1883-86

By descent through family

Collection of Joseph A. Seraphin, owner of Olympia Galleries, Ltd., 1974

Sotheby’s Parke Bernet, The Olympia Galleries Important Collection of Photographs by Thomas Eakins, 10 November 1977, Sale 4044B, Lot 506

Gordon Hendricks, The Photographs of Thomas Eakins (New York, 1972), fig. 124 (illustration of a modern enlargement in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, reversed)

Susan Danley and Cheryl Leibold, Eakins and the Photograph (Philadelphia, 1994), no. 399

Photographs by Thomas Eakins are exceptionally rare. No other period print of this image has been located. The glass plate negative is in the Charles Bregler's Thomas Eakins Collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1985.68.2.1025). The present photograph was acquired in 1977 in the now-legendary Sotheby Parke Bernet auction of Eakins photographs from the Olympia Galleries. The twenty-one photographs offered were given originally by Eakins to Edward H. Coates, an important member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, during the artist’s tenure with the institution. Buyers in the auction represented a who’s who of early collecting, including Seiden & Cuevas (photographs now at Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum) and Sam Wagstaff (photographs now at the J. Paul Getty Museum). The dealer James Maroney paid an unheard of $11,000 for Three Female Nudes, a record for any photograph at auction. 

While Eakins had long been interested in athletic subjects, the present early photograph – of pugilists dynamically sparring in the grass and surrounded by languid youths – predates his celebrated later paintings of prizefighters, such as Taking the Count (1898, Yale University Art Gallery), Salutat (1898, Addison Gallery of American Art), Wrestlers (1899, Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and Between Rounds (1899, Philadelphia Museum of Art). Eakins picked up the camera in 1880 in order to make preparatory studies for his own paintings as well as using it as a controversial teaching tool in his work at the Academy, where he encouraged his students’ study of the human form through both in-person and photographic observation.