The Tanagra

Thomas Pollock Anshutz

"The Tanagra" is one of Thomas Anshutz's most spectacular late works, in which the solid anatomy for which he was known vies with increasingly abstracted space, painterly flourishes, and the models' own intense presence. The daughter of a former president of the Academy, Rebecca Whelan was both a student and a favorite subject for Thomas Anshutz, who painted her at least five times, in a variety of attitudes. Here, she contemplates a tanagra figurine, the Attic Greek clay statuettes that were in demand in Europe and America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1909, this painting won the Gold Medal of Honor, the Academy's greatest honor. The Kentucky-born Anshutz began his career at the National Academy of Design, but soon migrated to Philadelphia, where Thomas Eakins's emphasis on drawing from life greatly impressed the young artists. Anshutz rose through the ranks of the Academy, eventually succeeding Eakins as Professor of Painting and Drawing after the older artist's forced resignation (a development Anshutz supported, much to the regret of later art historians). A gifted teacher, Anshutz inspired many of the artists who would form the Ashcan School of realism after moving to New York.
Date of Birth
by 1909
Oil on canvas
80 x 40 in. (203.2 x 101.6 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Gift of the friends and admirers of the artist. Original frame restored by Eli Wilner & Company