Seated Boy with Book (on verso: Baby Girl Playing)

by Thomas Eakins (1844–1916)
Oil on board
13⅛ x 10⅛ inches (sight size)
Inscribed and initialed lower left: Study by / T.E.


The artist

Susan Macdowell Eakins, wife of the artist

James Graham & Sons, New York, New York

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, acquired from above, April 13, 1962

Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation, gift from above, December 31, 1985

Sale, Bonhams, New York, New York, July 29, 2020, lot 22, from above

Private collection, acquired from above

Private collection, New York, New York


The Lawrenceville School, New Jersey, Collector’s Choice, October 1987–November 1988

The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, North Carolina Collects: Traditional Fine Arts and Decorative Arts, July 9–September 30, 1994

The Lawrenceville School, New Jersey, The Collector’s Eye Two: Works from the Collection of Lawrenceville Alumni, May 3–17, 1996

Olin Hall Galleries, Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia, October 17–November 24, 1997

Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina, July–August 1999

Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina, November 2002–February 2003

Asheville Art Museum, North Carolina, March 1, 2009–March 1, 2010

North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina, January–June 2013


Lloyd Goodrich, Thomas Eakins: His Life and Work (New York: Whitney Museum of Art, 1933), 169, no. 100. (as Studies of a Baby)

North Carolina Collects: Traditional Fine Arts and Decorative Arts (Charlotte: The Mint Museum of Art, 1994), 24–25, no. 16. (as Study of a Baby at Play)

Related Work

Baby at Play, 1876, oil on canvas, 32¼ x 48⅜ inches; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Note: Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans (1920–2012) was a philanthropist, politician, and patron of the arts. She served on the Duke University Board of Trustees and helped found the North Carolina School of the Arts in the 1960s.

Thomas Eakins created numerous figurative studies, often depicting his subjects engaged in everyday activity. He would observe his models with scientific precision, focusing on both the physical and psychological states of the individual. In this work, Eakins depicts a young boy concentrating on the book in his lap, while the verso image shows two depictions of a young child playing on the floor.

Artist Biography

Pioneering American realist painter, photographer, and teacher.

By Anna J. Murphy

A deep commitment to portraying subjects exactly as he saw them earned Thomas Eakins a reputation as a dedicated realist.

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Suggested Resources

I. Biography

Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins was a leading figure of the American realist movement, known for his scientific approach utilized to capture the truth of his subjects. His oeuvre, which includes hundreds of portraits, largely depicts people and scenes from his surroundings, offering a uniquely candid glimpse at the

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