American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Thomas Eakins, American, 1844–1916

The Oarsmen (The Schreiber Brothers)

1874

Oil on canvas

15 × 22 in. (38.1 × 55.9 cm)
John Hay Whitney, B.A. 1926, M.A. (Hon.) 1956, Collection
1982.111.1

Thomas Eakins’s friends Henry and Billy Schreiber were enthusiastic amateur rowers, like the artist himself. In the shadowy waters of the Schuylkill River, beside a pier of the Columbia Railroad Bridge in Philadelphia, the two men in a pair-oared shell reach the end of a stroke. The Schreibers row hard but inadvertently expose their imperfect technique with their slightly twisted torsos and slackened arms. Glowing colors and dramatic lighting enhance the quiet intimacy of this small painting—the smallest in Eakins’s series of rowing pictures.

Geography: 
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Ernest Lee Parker (died 1938), Philadelphia; New York art market; John Hay Whitney (1904–1982), New York; bequeathed to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1982

Bibliography: 

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 323–24, 329, no. 207, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.