Civic leaders in late-nineteenth-century Philadelphia stood out from those in other American cities because of their interest in science, medicine, engineering, and industry, which was incorporated into the city’s art and architecture. In addition to showing Fairman Rogers’s passion for four-in-hand coaching, Eakins’s painting captures their shared enthusiasm of optical effects that fueled a decade-long collaboration and friendship with Rogers, a civil engineer. Eakins used the new scientific information on horse locomotion that had been captured photographically by Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830–1904) while also depicting the relative rotational speed of larger and smaller wheels to create a visual anthem to the sciences.
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