13 Days: Out of Sight

Centennial HangingThomas Eakins meant The Gross Clinic to represent the best of America on its 100th birthday. “In the spring of 1875, a circular was sent out to the artists of Philadelphia,” writes Kathy Foster from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “urging them to prepare for the upcoming great Centennial Fair.” The city’s artists wanted to “show their own skill and bring honor to the city.”

But the art that hung in Memorial Hall, one of the very few permanent buildings at Philadelphia’s first World’s Fair, did not include the masterpiece Eakins created to make the case for “Philadelphia’s accomplishment as part of a larger story of American progress.” The selection committee considered it too shocking and offensive for the general public and The Gross Clinic was tucked away among the Army medical exhibits. We illustrate the “out of sight” Eakins here.

You can read Kathy Foster’s “Ten Reasons to Keep Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic in Philadelphia” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Eakins webpage.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Eakins Countdown

One Comment on “13 Days: Out of Sight”


  1. I think this blog is instructive about Philadelphia in 1875 and today. If we are to become the “Next Great City” we must be more innovative especially in Medicine. The Arts community almost by definition is innovative.

    So I agree that Kathleen Foster’e “Ten Reasons to Keep Thomas Eakins’s THE GROSS CLINIC” is on target except for point #7.Philadelphia does NOT have an innovative medical community.

    Philadelphia Medicine is stuck in models of bio-medicine that are dying. It has failed generally to embrace prevention, public health and the growing consumer demand for Alternative and Complementary Medicine. If Philly Medicine doesn’t act quickly it will fall further behind other US cities.

    Dr. Rick Lippin
    Southampton,Pa


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