Thomas Eakins

Mrs. Gilbert L. Parker (American, late 19th century) 

Thomas Eakins, ca. 1910 

Silhouette on tan wove paper


Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer are considered to be the two greatest American artists of the nineteenth century. In a popular illustrated magazine interview Eakins is quoted, “There are no lines in nature…there are only form and color. The least important, the most changeable, the most difficult thing to catch about a figure is the outline.” (Scribner’s Monthly, September 1879). 


This extraordinarily accurate silhouette of Eakins, made late in his life was done by Mrs. Gilbert L. Parker, a friend of the artist. Eakins did portraits of Mrs. Parker’s daughter in 1908, The Old-Fashioned Dress (Portrait of Helen Montanverde Parker), now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and of Mrs. Parker (1910), in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  


This silhouette is inscribed by Eakins, “My Dear Mrs. Parker, many thanks for your skillful silhouette, Thomas Eakins.”