Object Image

The Biglin Brothers Racing

In the late 1860s and 1870s rowing was a popular sport in America, practiced by both men and women. Eakins himself was an avid rower, and he painted the subject several times. This particular version most likely had its origins in a race held on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia on May 20, 1872 between professional oarsmen John and Bernard (Barney) Biglin in one scull and Harry Coulter and Lewis Cavitt (not shown) in the other boat. Attended by thousands of spectators, the five-mile race began with Coulter and Cavitt taking the lead, but the Biglin brothers pulled ahead and won handily, thanks to their steady stroke. The white sleeveless shirts and blue silk head kerchiefs worn by John and B...

Oil on canvas
61.2 x 91.6cm
Image and text © National Gallery of Art, 2020

Where you'll find this

National Gallery of Art
Permanent collection