Thomas Pollock Anshutz (1851-1912) was born in Campbell County, Kentucky to Jacob and Abigal Jane (Pollock) Anshutz in Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), on October 5, 1851. Twenty years later, he was an art student in Philadelphia seeking the best anatomy classes. He found Thomas Eakins (1844-1915) at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. With Eakins and Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), he analyzed anatomical movement through photography. The name Thomas Anshutz brings to mind his masterpiece of male anatomy Ironworkers’ Noontime, 1880.
But, Anshutz also absorbed Eakins psychological engagement with is portrait subjects. Eventually, Anshutz replaced Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy following Eakins nude model scandal in 1886. Although Anshutz was best known as a teacher of art in his own time, he was a great artist in his own right.
In the Gilded Age, artists often cast their subjects as royalty. Many followed the lead of the masterful John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Anshutz’s work struck a balance between Eakins psychological realism and Sargent’s elegant sophistication. When Anshutz used the popular pose for women reclining on furniture, his subjects were not anonymous, effete and helpless as many were portrayed. He painted women as individuals with character. His students, among them, Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Robert Henri and John Sloan, built on the techniques and sentiments of their mentor.