In 1873-74, American artist Thomas Eakins created a series of paintings and drawings related to the sport of rowing. Among these is “John Biglin in a Single Scull,” a watercolor painting on off-white wove paper measuring 19 5/16 x 24 7/8 inches. The painting depicts the champion of single sculls, John Biglin, as he practices for an upcoming race.
Eakins used his scientific understanding of anatomy, motion, and reflections on water to create an accurate representation of the sport. He paid close attention to Biglin’s muscles and movements as he rowed on the water, which are depicted in great detail in the painting. The reflections on the water also add depth and realism to the work.
“John Biglin in a Single Scull” is part of a larger body of work by Eakins related to sculling. His interest in this sport likely stemmed from his childhood experiences rowing with his father. This painting highlights Eakins’ ability to capture movement and anatomy with precision, making it an exceptional example within his oeuvre.
Various reproductions of “John Biglin in a Single Scull” are available for purchase today, including prints on canvas and fine art paper. It remains an important artwork that captures both the beauty and athleticism found within competitive rowing while showcasing Eakin’s technical skill as an artist.