cover image The Paris Letters of Thomas Eakins

The Paris Letters of Thomas Eakins

Thomas Eakins, . . Princeton Univ., $35 (342pp) ISBN 978-0-691-13808-4

From 1866 to 1870, Philadelphia native Thomas Eakins spent four very formative years abroad in Paris and Spain. Homer (Thomas Eakins: His Life and Art ) has for the first time gathered and translated (from Eakins's Italian, French and even Old French) all of Eakins's private correspondence during this period. Arranged chronologically with brief summaries before each letter, the letters' covered topics range from painting to hats to Dante. They are chiefly written to Eakins's parents; his sister Fanny, to whom he most fully revealed himself; his other sister, Maggie, and to the artist Emily Sartain, to whom Eakins was connected romantically. One of the collection's first letters is also one of its most vivid; as he sailed to France, Eakins describes his flea-ridden hotel in New York, characterizing the city as having “a great deal of life... too much in fact for the size of the place” and contrasts the gallantry of the Frenchmen aboard with the baseness of Americans. On art, his most interesting comments are to his father and in the private notebook he kept in Spain, which concludes this essential contribution to the field of Eakins scholarship. 68 illus. (Sept.)