FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philadelphia Museum Contingent Brings Second “Super Bowl” Eakins Work to Nelson-Atkins
Group Joins Kansas City Chiefs’ Reps, Trustees to see Sailing in Gallery
Kansas City, MO. May 8, 2023–In a surprise move, the Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art called an audible that resulted in a pleasing twofer at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. After losing the Super Bowl wager that resulted in the Thomas Eakins work Sailing being loaned to the Nelson-Atkins, the Philadelphia contingent decided to pack another precious work of art to also be put on view in the American galleries.
“I was delighted to learn that my fabulous counterpart in Philadelphia, Sasha Suda, made a surprise gesture to bring along the preliminary oil sketch of the Eakins work already hanging in our gallery,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. “This gives us an enlightening glimpse into Eakins’ creative process.”
The sketch for Monsignor James P. Turner will be placed next to the finished painting, which is prominently displayed in the American gallery along with Sailing. Suda, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, is bringing six colleagues and Trustees from Philadelphia to see Sailing.
Representatives of the Kansas City Chiefs will join the group in the gallery on Thursday, May 11 at 3 p.m. to see how the masterpiece looks in the museum’s American galleries.
“The Philadelphia Museum of Art family are great winners, but we’re also good losers, and we’re delighted to lend our friends at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City two extraordinary works by Thomas Eakins,” said Suda. “By adding the sketch for Monsignor James P. Turner to our loan, in addition to the painting Sailing, the people of Kansas City will get to see both the process of creation and the masterpiece — that’s an artful win. And to my wonderful colleague, Julián Zugazagoitia, we look forward to the rematch!”
For the first time ever, a side-by-side comparison of the sketch and the painting indicates that Eakins painted this study rather quickly. Given the speed, it is interesting to see which key details appear in the final composition. The decorative metal gate behind the priest, the book he holds, and his striking red robes contrast with the dark chapel. The brownish-yellow painted rectangle around the figure emphasizes what would be the dramatic verticality of the finished portrait.
Although Eakins was a renowned portraitist, he was also known for his depictions of athletic pursuits and outdoor activities such as rowing and sailing races. In Sailing, the two men are not in a race but are game bird hunters. Wind catches the taut sail in the late afternoon light, propelling the men along the Delaware River south of Philadelphia to the marshes.
Representatives from Philadelphia include Suda, Connie Williams, Philadelphia Museum of Art Trustee and Chair Emerita, Jessica Todd Smith, Director of Curatorial Initiatives and the Susan G. Detweiler Curator of American Art, Alphonso Atkins Jr, Miller Worley Deputy Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access, Karleen Gardner, Kathleen C. Sherrerd Deputy Director for Learning and Engagement, Justin Romeo, Executive Administrator to the Director, and Kitty Bowe Hearty, Board Liaison.
Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916). Sketch for Monsignor James P. Turner, about 1906. Oil on cardboard. Lent by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift of Mrs. Thomas Eakins and Miss Mary Adeline Williams, 1930, 1930-32-15a
Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916). Monsignor James P. Turner, about 1906. Oil on canvas. Gift of the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation. F83-41
Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916). Sailing, about 1875. Oil on canvas. The Alex Simpson, Jr., Collection, 1928. 1928-63-6
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The museum opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds.
The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of more than 42,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and Native American and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.
The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday through Monday; 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Thursday; closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission to the museum is free to everyone. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.
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