THOMAS EAKINS,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale The Concert Singer by THOMAS EAKINS {American School}

The Concert Singer by THOMAS EAKINS {American School}


by {American School}

was one of a series of portraits Eakins painted of

Philadelphia natives who were prominent in science and culture, with the intent of

producing major showpieces for exhibition. The painting exemplifies Eakins’s desire to

truthfully record visual appearances with “historical value.”

Eakins drew, painted, or sculpted at least twenty-two works that dealt with

the visual aspects of music; at one point, this included “eleven straight portraits of musicians and musicologists”,

of which has been called “the finest”.

The work depicts Weda Cook, a “respected Camden vocalist… recognized for her

‘powerful contralto voice, unassuming manner, and thorough training.'”

She stands center stage, wearing pink slippers and a low-necked sleeveless pink dress, a luminous and central element in the picture, fringed with lace and pearl beads. Eakins’s realism is notable in the painting of skin tones,

with Cook’s bare neck, chest, arms, and shoulders visibly paler than her head and hands.


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The figure is solidly and subtly modeled, its warm light pinks set against a

cooler and darker yellow-green background. Narrative details are minimal.

In the lower-left foreground, a conductor’s hand and baton are visible,

although the rest of the figure is not pictured. Initially, as can be

seen in the preliminary sketch, the hand grasped the baton

as if it were a paint brush. For verisimilitude Eakins had Charles M. Schmitz,

the conductor of the Germania Orchestra and Cook’s teacher, pose holding the baton.

A bouquet at the lower right suggests that the singer is performing an encore;

apparently a fresh supply of roses was provided at each sitting by the sculptor

William Rudolf O’Donovan, who had fallen in love with Cook.


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