Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Different Eakins Sold to Wal-Mart Heiress's Crystal Bridges

Eakins’ “Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. Rand” (1874), sold to Alice Walton’s Arkansas museum.
The painting is destined for the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, now under construction in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Carol Vogel in the New York Times is reporting that Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has been at it again in their attempt to sell an Eakins to Crystal Bridges. This time it is Thomas Eakin's portrait of Benjamin Howard Rand. "Less than four months after Philadelphians thwarted its bid to buy “The Gross Clinic,” an 1875 masterpiece by Thomas Eakins, an Arkansas museum founded by the Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton has quietly purchased another much-loved Eakins painting from the Philadelphia medical school that sold the first."

Michael Kimmelman describes the painting:

"A tour de force from 1874 -Benjamin Howard Rand- a chemistry professor whom Eakins knew as a teacher from his school days. He sits, reading and distractedly stroking a cat (an echo of Manet’s “Olympia” perhaps) at a desk almost comically crammed with microscopes, test tubes, quills and papers. Raking light picks out, like flashes of colored fireworks, the polished brass instruments, a pink rose and a woman’s afghan draped over a chair before the desk. The cat stares at us. Professor Rand remains absorbed in his book.

"At the Centennial, where Eakin's “The Gross Clinic” was banished to the medical tent for being too graphic, critics praised the Rand painting as more than a portrait because of the still life of objects in it. Now it seems brilliant but anecdotal."

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