Thomas Eakins Seated Cross Legged with His Palette by Samuel Murray

2012-13-murray-eakins Thomas Eakins Seated Cross Legged with His Palette, 1907, cast 1909
Samuel Murray (1869–1941)
Plaster, metal and wood, 9 1/2 x 9 5/8 x 8 3/4 inches
Gift of Dr. Christine I. Oaklander in memory of Dr. William Innes Homer, a superb teacher and scholar of American art, 2012

In 1886, 17-year-old Samuel Murray began to study art with the painter Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) at the newly founded Art Students League of Philadelphia. The League had been started by a group of Eakins’ pupils who followed him from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, from which he had been fired for using a nude male model in a coed lecture. Murray quickly became a favorite, even as he found his focus in sculpture rather than painting.

Murray became a very successful sculptor. The Pennsylvania Academy gave him his first solo show at age 27, and he regularly exhibited in juried shows at the Academy in Philadelphia, the National Academy of Design and the National Sculpture Society in New York, and at international expositions. Murray taught at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art) for over 50 years, and he attracted major public and private commissions. Like Eakins, Murray focused on portraiture and the two often portrayed the same individuals. This sensitive portrait of his friend and teacher is one of Murray’s most successful portraits. It is the first work by Murray to enter the collection of the Delaware Art Museum.

This gift was given in honor of William Innes Homer, a professor in the Art History Department at the University of Delaware for more than 30 years. Dr. Homer specialized in American painting and photography, authoring books on Thomas Eakins, Robert Henri, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and artists of the Stieglitz circle. Throughout his career, Dr. Homer collaborated with the Delaware Art Museum to produce exhibitions and catalogues, including Avant-Garde Painting and Sculpture in America, 1910–25 (1975) and A Pictorial Heritage: The Photographs of Gertrude Kasebier (1979) and The Gist of Drawing: Works on Paper by John Sloan (1997). Dr. Homer encouraged object-based study, and he mentored many curators and academics.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Curator of American Art 

This Curator Corner was posted on October 25, 2012.