From the 1300 Block of Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

--represented here by an admittedly quirky composite view i generated in photoshop using screenshots from google's streetview, along with closeups of the markers pulled from the internet.  

here is joseph saxton's picture, almost impossible to reconcile visually with the street as it is today:

if he didn't know about saxton's picture, eakins' curiosity would have been aroused, as he was a practicing photographer, and intensely interested in photography's implications for painting.  shortly before moving into the chestnut street studio, eakins began an extensive series of nude photographs, working to deepen his understanding of human anatomy--

and articulated (to take one example) in his famous picture, "the swimming hole," painted in the new studio the year he moved in--

when eakins moved into the chestnut street studio, he was teaching at the pennsylvania academy of fine arts, and embroiled in controversy over his passionate commitment to the human body as a subject.  he extensively used his nude photographs in instruction--sometimes enlisting his students as subjects, as above in the photographic study for "the swimming hole."  he recommended that his students paint in the nude, and insisted that all students, including women, work directly from life with nude male models.  his willingness to disrobe completely before a woman student to illustrate an anatomical point earned his dismissal from the academy in 1886.  in this photograph, eakins holds a limp woman in his classroom--perhaps a model, or perhaps his student sarah macdowell, who was apparently the only of his coeds willing to remove her clothes in his classes--

little visual description of eakins' chestnut street studio survives, though he does describe something of it in a portrait of susan, whom he married the same year that he moved into it--

it seems to me that a true homage to eakins--on this corner of all corners--would show something of what photography and courage meant to him, perhaps a visual marker fixed quietly beside his erstwhile door--

spring, 2011, philadelphia