Pieces of the Real
Eakins' eye for detail is easily missed when his paintings are studied in reproduction. The purpose of this section is to isolate and catalog many of the small details of two of Eakins' greatest works, The Champion Single Sculls and The Portrait of Professor Gross. The first painting, produced in 1975, features the accomplished rower Max Schmitt in a leisurely moment of rowing.
The Champion Single Sculls



Schmitt has just completed a turn and has paused to rest and perhaps to pose for the painter. His boat is inscribed with the name "Josie", the name of Schmitt's sister. Eakins' was particularly successful with his rendering of Schmitt's reflection on the water.
In the middle distance, the artist has portrayed himself. Contrast the stocky figure of Eakins in the activity of rowing with the more athletic figure of Schmitt at rest. Eakins has inscribed the stern end of the washbox of his boat with his own name.

Far in the distance appears a puff of steam, this one from a steamboat. In front of the boat is a smaller craft occupied by three men in Quaker attire. The cumbersome boat is propelled by the rowing of two of the men, while the third is a passenger. Even these barely perceivable details are given considerable attention by the artist.
The Portrait of Professor Gross
The Portrait of Professor Gross, 1875, depicts a wide range of detailed portraits and exacting portrayals of physical objects. Just off-center in the painting is the figure of Dr. Samuel D. Gross, whose bloodied hand holds the equally bloodied scalpel used to make the incision on the patient to remove a piece of dead bone.

At the patient's head is the anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph W. Hearn, who is administering a chloroform soaked towel.
Leaning over the patient to absorb the bleeding in the interior of the incision, is Dr. James M. Barton, Gross's Chief of Clinic.

The young doctor in the corner is Daniel Appel, a recent graduate of Jefferson Medical College. Appel is securing one side of the incision with a retractor in one hand, and offering Dr. Gross an instrument with the other hand. Another doctor, hidden behind the figure of Gross, holds the retractor that secures the other side of the incision. Only the hand of this doctor appears.
Dr. Charles S. Briggs holds the patient's sock-clad feet down. In front of Briggs is an instrument table holding surgical implements and bloody gauze.

The mother of the patient shields her eyes from the horrific sight in the left edge of the painting.
Behind Gross are Dr. Franklin West, who records the proceedings of the clinic, Hughey O'Donnell (in the doorway on the left) and Dr. Samuel W. Gross, the surgeon's son (in the doorway on the right). Twenty-one onlookers are seated in the amphitheater, including Eakins himself, holding a pencil in the lower right, and the poet Robert C. V. Meyers, leaning forward near the top railing.
Eakins' commitment to intense perception is demonstrated by his focus on details that the beholders of his art might never identify.