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Back Indicted by Rumor
Photograph of Male nude sitting on modeling stand, holding small sculpture of horse Photograph of Female nude sitting on cloth-draped chair Photograph of Thomas Eakins nude, holding nude female in his arms, looking at camera
NUDITY IN THE CLASSROOM
INDICTED BY RUMOR
Eakins was also crucified by a rumor mill at the time that added fuel to the fire of students that opposed him. Tales that also led people to believe that his judgment was not very good in handling his students. So it created a storm of controversy that divided the art students in the school. Forty students marched out and protested in the streets, paraded in front of Eakins studio and then went and organized a school so that he could come and continue to teach them there. This was the Art Students' League. Other students, however, lined up against him and it's interesting that many of the students who opposed him were people from his own family. It was a very difficult time for him, effectively a civil war in the school and in Eakins' family when people took different sides. KATHLEEN A. FOSTER, Ph.D.
Curator, Indiana University Art Museum
Was ever so much smoke for so little fire? I never in my life seduced a girl, nor tried to, but what else can people think of all this rage and insanity. It is not a rare ambition in a painter to want to make good pupils. My dear master Gerome who loved me had the same ambition, helped me always and has to this day interested himself in all I am doing.

My figures at least are not a bunch of clothes with a head and hands sticking out but more nearly resemble the strong living bodies that most pictures show. And in the latter end of a life so spent in study, you at least can imagine that painting is with me a very serious study. That I have but little patience with the false modesty which is the greatest enemy to all figure painting. I see no impropriety in looking at the most beautiful of Nature's works, the naked figure. If there is impropriety, then just where does such impropriety begin? Is it wrong to look at a picture of a naked figure or at a statue? English ladies of the last generation thought so and avoided the statue galleries, but do so no longer. Or is it a question of sex? Should men make only the statues of men to be looked at by men, while the statues of women should be made by women to be looked at by women only? Should the he-painters draw the horses and bulls, and the she-painters like Rosa Bonheur the mares and the cows? Must the poor old male body in the dissecting room be mutilated before Miss Prudery can dabble in his guts?

Such indignities anger me. Can not anyone see into what contemptible inconsistencies such follies all lead? And how dangerous they are? My conscience is clear, and my suffering is past.

Yours, T.E.
Thomas Eakins
Resignation Letter to Edward Hornor Coates, Chairman of the Committee on Instruction
February 15, 1886
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