Thomas Eakins’ painting, “The Artist’s Wife and His Setter Dog,” is a notable example of realism and portrait painting. The artwork was created around 1884-89, during Eakins’ marriage to Susan Hannah Macdowell. The setting for the painting is believed to be Eakins’ studio in Philadelphia where he and his wife lived.
In the painting, Susan is depicted sitting in a chair wearing a light blue dress, with a book in her lap and a red setter dog at her feet. The use of color in the painting draws attention to Susan’s figure and position in relation to the dog. The composition suggests that she has an affinity with nature as seen through her pet. Also, Sally Whistler, another artist’s model sat for both ,”Arcadia”, portrayed bare-bodiced seated on grass seen from behind on right-hand side which highlighted individual musculature traits—her lumps and bumps , “The Artist’s Wife,” which depict formal compositions Woman occupied with reading or writing complementing the background appearance.
“The Artist’s Wife” is recognized as one of Thomas Eakins’ most personal works due to its representation of his wife Susan. Interestingly enough,Eakins used other paintings such as “Arcadia” to feature his wife Susan Hannah MacDowell but rather than it being about their relationship “Arcadia” featured his naked view of her body as subject matter.Arcadia shows us how important athletics were considered in American intellectual society at that time.If it hadn’t been for ”The Artifacts’ ’92 exhibition (not without causing scandals) many would not have been acquired by museums or galleries reflecting appreciation towards realistic depictions like ”The Artists’ Wife And Dog”.
Overall, this artwork captures an intimate moment between an artist’s wife and her pet showcasing their way of living while paralleling nuances from other publications conveying how historic contemporary painters chose themes ,composition, technique and palette.