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Photograph of the Ward of Model Post Hospital Portrait of the Gross Clinic, Thomas Eakins Portrait of the Gross Clinic, Thomas Eakins
"It is a picture that even strong men find difficult to look at for long, if they can look at it at all, says one critic." Another writes: "This violent and bloody scene shows that the artist had no conception of where to stop, or how to hint at a horrible thing if it must be said, or what the limits are between the beauty of the nude and indecency of the naked. Power it has, but very little art."  
I think The Gross Clinic was intended as a great debut painting. Eakins wanted to make a major statement. He was 31; he wanted to show the power of his French training. He wanted to make an international appearance with this picture. Of course he was dreadfully disappointed that it was rejected by the jury of the exhibition and shown only by a certain amount of rigging in the medical display. So that was a major disappointment to him. He also must have been perplexed and confused by the negative responses to this painting. He thought of it as heroic as a major statement of science and of modern progress in surgery. People were offended by the blood; they were shocked by the nude figure of the patient... The Gross Clinic was the beginning of Eakins reputation as a controversial artist. The reception of this painting created the image of Eakins as an uncompromising realist, as a painter of the new, the modern, and the ugly. KATHLEEN A. FOSTER, Ph.D.
Curator, Indiana University Art Museum
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