After four years of study in Paris, Thomas Eakins returned to Philadelphia in 1870, setting up a studio in his family home on Mount Vernon Street. Choosing modern American life as his subject matter, Eakins began painting his innovative and now famous rowing, sailing, and hunting pictures. Several of the sailing scenes, possibly including this one, were based on actual races Eakins witnessed at Gloucester, New Jersey. Eakins's dedication to getting the details right can be seen in the precise rendering of the central sailboat's rigging and in his simple but powerful suggestion of the crew's physical efforts as they strain against the wind.
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