10.0 th…Post…ThumbPrint
Posted on: November 2nd, 2011 by dan 65 Comments


I tried for a larger picture but the program I’m using gets overloaded with memory and just slows down.  I am going to try to make these pictures thumbnails, that will help.  Later move.


Photo by: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC  [# 8]

In an around the year 1880 Thomas Eakins is known to have made a bronze casting of a left arm.  The art community seems split over just whose arm is it.   It a toss up between that of Thomas Eakins and his younger sister Margaret.   Margaret died in Dec of  1882, she was 29 years of age     (Typhoid ?)

I have formed my opinion on whose arm was cast, I will expand on it in              11.0th Post…ThumbNail.

If you see pictures of this bronze arm  in publications it seems to always be   the back side of the arm as it rest on a pedestal or a table in a show case.

I originally saw the back view in some publication that I researched.  I examined the photo under magnification and was able to make out some aging  lines.  This led me to believe that the fingerprints on the front side  would be intact.

I was interested in this because my painting, The Last Supper, has a partial print that was made in the  fresh paint of 110 years ago.  A partial print is better than no print.  I would bet that there  were some people that went to the electric chair on less.  You can’t see it  in the print on my home page due to size limitation.   But it is about 3/4 of the way up on the left outside edge.  Just take my word that the print is there.   It is about 1/2 of an inch in length.  Small and partial but it is there.

The bronze arm happens to be a left arm.

You can see my partial thumbprint in   10.4 th…Post….ThumbPrint

This print is not the best, it was done with a small digital hand held camera.  I have since acquire an inspection microscope with a built in digital camera (very expensive).  When I learn how to use the program I will post  a better picture.

This microscope I will use on other parts of the painting,  I can’t wait to  clearly see what I am sure is  there.

Believing the the prints would be intact I contacted Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC.

A young lady from the archives dept.   Aimee….. took charge.  I was in luck, I think she took a personal interest in my project, a new direction of research.

I explained just what I needed.  They never had a request such as I made,  they  had nothing like it in their archives.  However they would accommodate  my needs.

The bronze arm was removed from display, delivered to the photo shop, photos that I requested were made, the bronze arm was returned to display.  I received my photos and your are viewing them now (never before seen in public).   Thank you Aimee….dan

If you look closely  at the arm you will see shiny spots at the finger tips and the outside edge of the thumb. Also, the very inside edge  of the arm.  This is from wear.  For the first 75 years of its’ life the arm has been pushed around on tables, floors, probably as a door stop in  hot weather.  I can see Eakins opening the windows in hot weather and using the bronze arm to hold the door open and letting the breeze pass through the studio.  Those shiny spots are wear.  There are no fingerprints at those spots.  After the  Hirshhorn Museum acquired the arm it was treated with care.  However, the damage was done.  The darkness of the arm is the result of patina, which occurs with age.  It can be polished off but one would wear down the bronze,  less fingerprints and it is  labor expensive.

And of course, we know,   the  print  from the right side edge of the thumb is  just what I needed.  Nothing is easy.

I have had two experts in the fingerprint field consider my project.  One lasted an hour and then declined.  The second expert held on for some time before breaking communication.  Maybe he was just short on time,I don’t know.  My hopes were dashed again.

However, I have undertaken the project myself.  Of course, regardless of what my results are  it will be necessary to have an expert in the field confirm  my findings.

It puzzles me,  why someone in the field would not aggressively pursue the project. It would be good for their resume, it has never been done before.

Anyway, read on and see my plan….dan


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COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  To avoid any possible copyright conflict we have been advised  by our legal department to forgo any content feeders  and make no direct link to social medias nor other web sites.  Our painting The Last Supper by Thomas Eakins might be the most important American painting of the 19th century. It is an AMERICAN  ICON.   All the material on this site is original and copyrighted  and we must take all possible precaution in protecting those rights.    Permission to make use of any part  of this website, The Last Supper.info, must first be approved and approval must be in writing  from our Legal Department.   © 2011-2012: DanBreslin


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