Thomas Eakins's The Gross Clinic

February 2016

In February 2016 Kathleen Foster, Robert McNeil Jr. Senior Curator of American Art, PMA; and Mark Tucker, Vice Chair of Conservation and Aronson Senior Conservator of Paintings, PMA, led the first of the object-focused workshops for the Penn/PMA collaboration funded by the Mellon Foundation. Their subject was the recent conservation and restoration of Thomas Eakins’s painting The Gross Clinic (1876). The project aimed to undo some of the effects of time and a prior overcleaning in order to bring the painting back to its original appearance, insofar as that could be reconstructed from early photographs, technical examination, and painstaking study of Eakins’s working methods. The importance of uniting historical study and technical analysis in any restoration project was vividly demonstrated.

Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic), Thomas Eakins, American, 1844 - 1916, 1875, Oil on canvas, 8 feet x 6 feet 6 inches (243.8 x 198.1 cm), American Art, 2007-1-1, Gift of the Alumni Association to Jefferson Medical College in 1878 and purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2007 with the generous support of more than 3,600 donors, 2007