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

John Biglin in a Single Scull


Oil on canvas

24 3/8 × 16 in. (61.9 × 40.6 cm)
Whitney Collections of Sporting Art, given in memory of Harry Payne Whitney, B.A. 1894, and Payne Whitney, B.A. 1898, by Francis P. Garvan, B.A. 1897, M.A. (Hon.) 1922
In the 1870s, Thomas Eakins drew upon his firsthand knowledge of the popular sport of rowing and his scientific understanding of anatomy, motion, and reflections on water to create a series of rowing pictures. This one features John Biglin, the champion of single sculls, as he practices for a race. Like a figure carved in relief, Biglin displays powerful muscularity in the sculptural roundness of his arms and shoulders. Other details, including the light wear on the wooden thole pin that provides a fulcrum for the oar, are rendered with Eakins’s characteristic precision.
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
On view
19th century

Susan Macdowell Eakins (1851–1938), Philadelphia; Penn Burke, Philadelphia; Francis P. Garvan (1875–1937), New York; given to the Yale University Art Gallery in the Whitney Collection of Sporting Art, New Haven, Conn., 1932


Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 66–67, ill.

Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 102, 104, fig. 98.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 353, fig. 1.

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), 322–24, 329, no. 206, ill.

William Innes Homer, The Paris Letters of Thomas Eakins (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009), ill.

Allen Guttmann, Sports and American Art from Benjamin West to Andy Warhol (Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts, 2011), pl. 18, 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.