Art: With Loyalty to Life

In 1914. two years before his death, the painter Thomas Eakins made a sale that overnight made headlines. It was an oil sketch; the buyer was Albert C. Barnes, just then beginning to use his great Argyrol fortune to build up his great art collection. The press spread the rumor that Barnes had paid $50,000 for the sketch (a better guess would have been $5,000), and suddenly Eakins found himself being hailed as "the dean of American painters." His place in U.S. art has remained secure ever since, but true recognition came late for Eakins himself.

Though he was, along with Albert...

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