Biography: Thomas Eakin was born in Philadelphia in 1844. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was an American realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator.
Significance: Thomas Eakins was a realist, dedicated to depicting the human figure. Eakins was in the vanguard of young painters who would shift the focus of American art from landscape to the figural subjects favored by European academies. He was also an important figure in photography, as he encouraged his students to learn the new technology and engage in photography. For a large part of his later career, he focused on portraiture, and then athletics -- boxing, wrestling, rowing.
Technique: He worked with a wooden view camera, glass plate negatives, and the platinum print process.
Motivations: He was dedicated to depicting the human body -- in portraits, and in motion. He saw the camera as a tool, one that could help artists in anatomical drawing, to see what was actually before them. He was interested in motion photography.