Thomas Anshutz is remembered today primarily as a teacher who shaped a generation of American artists, including figures as diverse as Robert Henri, Maxfield Parrish, and John Marin. He was profoundly influenced by Thomas Eakins, his teacher at the Philadelphia Sketch Club and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Following Eakins’ belief that figure painting required a detailed understanding of anatomy in order to correctly depict the body in motion, Anshutz mastered the subject and demonstrated dissections at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1878 until 1881, when he was made a full member of the faculty.
Having produced a masterful series of paintings, including The Ironworkers’ Noontime (1880; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum), Anshutz became absorbed in his teaching during the 1880s and painted little. When he married and returned to painting more frequently in the early 1890s, Anshutz moved beyond Eakins’ potent example to experiment with a variety of artistic approaches. He studied briefly in Paris, incorporated impressionist and post-impressionist methods into some of his works, and largely shifted from painting outdoor, agrarian subjects to more intimate interiors and portraits