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Wrestlers by Thomas Eakins on the Depict FrameWrestlers by Thomas Eakins
Wrestlers by Thomas Eakins

Wrestlers, 1899

Thomas Eakins

Two wrestlers engage in this luminous, athletic image. The wrestler on top pins his opponent in a half nelson. Light falls on their wiry, muscled bodies, as if to emphasize the glow of physical exertion and the glory of the body. These wrestlers really did strike a pose on the artist’s studio floor; he painted a series of wrestling scenes from live models and photographs. One existing photograph shows wrestlers in this very pose.

Eakins’ choice of subject matter and style, an in-your-face image of working class men engaged in a working class sport, made a statement; the art world establishment at that time tended to favor more genteel subjects.

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