Where’s That Other Eakins Clinic Again?

Shortly after Philadelphia museums and philanthropists announced in January that they had raised enough of the $68 million needed to buy Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic from Thomas Jefferson University and save it from leaving town, a New York Times article detailed the trove of Eakins paintings that could be seen in various locales of his native city. For some reason it neglected to mention The Agnew Clinic, which the School of Medicine’s Class of 1889 commissioned to honor Dr. D. Hayes Agnew M1838, and for which Eakins used a number of other Penn people as models.

The painting hung for nearly a century in the Medical Laboratories Building (now the John Morgan Building), which opened in 1904. There it caught the eye of a young medical student named William Carlos Williams M1906 Hon’52, and for many years its image has been featured on the medical school’s diplomas.

Five years ago, there was a “major steam leak” in the Morgan building, according to Jacqueline Jacovini GFA’84, associate curator of Penn’s art collection. “Fortunately, The Agnew Clinic had very minor damage, and that was repaired by the conservators at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Since then, the painting has been on loan to the PMA, where it can be seen in the American section, Room 111. “It’s very safe and sound,” says Jacovini, “and very public.” —S.H.




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