The Agnew Clinic

The Agnew Clinic Painting by Thomas Eakins.

The Agnew Clinic by Thomas Eakins

The Agnew Clinic by Thomas Eakins was produced in 1889 and is considered to be one of the famous artworks of Realism movement. The work can be viewed now at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Medium: Oil Painting 

Subject(s): clinic, doctor


The Agnew Clinic is an oil painting produced in 1889 by American artist Thomas Eakins.

As the name suggests, The Agnew Clinic depicts Dr. Agnew who was performing a partial mastectomy in his Clinic. On the left-hand side of the painting, Dr. Agnew is standing holding a tool similar to a scalpel. With him, other doctors and a nurse are present around the patient. Other Doctors were Dr. J. William White, Dr. Joseph Leidy, and Dr. Ellwood R. Kirby. The first doctor is applying a bandage to the patient, the second one is taking note of the patient’s pulse while the last doctor was administering anesthetic. Mary Clymer is the nurse of Dr. Agnew who is standing between two doctors of the right observing the patient and doctors. The artist Thomas Eakins can also be found in this painting behind the nurse over the rightmost part of the painting.

This painting is very well compared with another painting of Thomas Eakins ‘The Gross Clinic’ which was painted fourteen years earlier compared to when this painting was completed. The Gross Clinic painting prospects a different scenario of the medical profession. Dr. Agnew had no blood drops on either of his white doctor’s coat or his scalpel.

Thomas Eakins earlier painting showed professionalism in the doctor’s clinic but this painting lacked this due to the fear and discomfort environment inside the clinic. Thus, the title of this painting was a hotly debated topic. It created controversy because the patient was a nude woman being watched by several other men. The dimensions of the painting The Agnew Clinic were 214 cm × 300 cm or 84 3⁄8 in × 118 1⁄8 in.

The work can be viewed at John Morgan Building at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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