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

The Veteran (Portrait of George Reynolds)

Probably 1885

Oil on canvas

22 3/16 × 17 1/4 in. (56.4 × 43.8 cm)
Bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903
1961.18.20

Twenty years after the American Civil War, the memory of walking with death is still fresh for this former soldier. Barely visible, the Medal of Honor decorates George Reynolds’s lapel as a reminder of his former service in the Union army. Reynolds’s physical scars from battle are evident on his forehead; less obvious are the psychological and emotional consequences of that wartime experience. By titling this haunting portrait The Veteran, the artist invested the distinctly individual image with a more universal meaning. Reynolds was a living monument to the war; his furrowed brow and distant, thoughtful gaze combine with his clasped hands to suggest lingering anxiety about the fate of the reunified country.

Geography: 
Made in United States
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Henry Shaefer, Pottsville, Penn.; Stephen Carlton Clark (1882–1960), New York; bequeathed to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1961

Bibliography: 

Michael Conforti et al., The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings, exh. cat. (Williamstown, Mass.: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2006), 316, 325, fig. 277.

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), 73, 158–59, 329, no. 95, ill.

Artists on Art: Observations by Yale Faculty on Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1999), 32–33, ill.

Rebecca Zurier, “Thinking Like a Painter: Method and Manhood in Three Works by Thomas Eakins,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2015): 67, fig. 2.

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.