3.0 rd Post: …… Painting History
Posted on: May 6th, 2011 by dan 429 Comments


Thomas Eakins had a religious experience.  It was now the 400th anniversary of Leonadro’s da Vinci’s most famous painting, The Last Supper. Eakins   was now experiencing   Leonardo’s honors, 400 years after the fact.  Eakins believed himself to be as fine a painter.  He was moved to copy Leonardo’s The Last Supper if to prove only to himself that he was as fine a painter.   While copying Leonadro’s most famous painting, Eakins epiphany continued.  He thereon personalized his The Last Supper painting by including some of his circle of friends.  However, this seems to have been  one of Eakins’ painting techniques.  If you can see the facial features in one of his paintings, that person can be identified.  Although in this situation a viewer would not notice this difference unless it was brought to their attention and  the two paintings were shown together.  Now, knowing all this information , Eakins and his circle of friends are identifiable.


The painting was taken to Earles’ Galleries, No. 816 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.  The gallery framed it with a modest wood frame having some plaster overlay, placing the painting behind glass.  The wood frame has some inscriptions written on the back.  One  solo letter placed on the back was a large E in script.  It is coincidental that when Eakins was marking papers for his students, if they did excellent work he would have placed a large E thereon, instead of a numerical grade.  I consider this to be Eakins approval for the work being done at Earles’. This painting was done for personal reasons and not for public display.  It is also coincidental that at this point  in time Eakins had done only one other religious painting, The Crucifixion (1880).


Christmas Day, 1899:

The time was now  Christmas Day, 1899,  the painting was given as a gift from B. Eakins to Dr. Thomson, a family friend.  Thereafter, that day at Christmas dinner B. Eakins became seriously ill and was unable to finish his dinner.   B. Eakins died five days later.  He was buried with his wife and infant son, Benjamin, in their family plot at Woodland Cemetery, in Philadelphia.


Having just buried his father, B. Eakins,  Thomas Eakins and Samuel Murray after 18 years closed their shared studio that was located at 1330 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

At this point in time I don’t believe that the Thomson family knew just who was in the painting.  But if they did it didn’t carry much weight since Eakins painting were still shunned.  I think the Dr. Thomson and family just treated the painting as though it was a printed copy of Leonardo’s work.  Certainly later generations felt this way.  Due to the poor condition of the framing etc. indicates that others thought this to be the case.

However, we  Americans were lucky, it was framed so well that nothing had ever touched the painting.  And  being set behind glass it remained  in pristine condition.  I was the first person to touch the painting since it was framed in 1899.


Dr. William Thomson died.  His wife Rebecca inherited all contents of the house(along with substantial real estate) at 1426 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.  Dr. Thomson’s will requested that all the contents of his home be documented but the contents should not be included in his estate.  There is no record that this request was ever fulfilled.


Rebecca Thomson died intestate.    Her estate was distributed to her children.

1910 – 1967:

This time span is still being researched.  Research will continue until this   period    is documented.  If anyone can contribute,  even a small bit of information, it would be greatly appreciated.


The Last Supper painting was purchased by Daniel Breslin


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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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