Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - Weda Cook

Refine Filter Results

Skip to Content ☰ Open Filter >>

Image of Weda Cook

Thomas Eakins , (Jul 25, 1844–Jun 25, 1916)

Weda Cook

c. 1892
7 1/16 in. x 5 1/8 in. (17.94 cm x 13.02 cm)

Medium and Support: Platinum print
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 1984.9


Exactly when Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) began experimenting with photography is not known, but he may have become interested in the medium while studying in Paris, as photographs were used as teaching tools at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. It is certain that Eakins took up photography when it was a relatively new mode of visual expression and was active in developing its use. Eakins enthusiastically used many means to explore his artistic themes. Photography was especially helpful in studying the nude and the human figure in motion and in experimenting with different methods of portraiture. He began by taking pictures of friends, family, and students, and eventually used photography as a teaching tool at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Eakins even designed two multiple image cameras for recording the human figure in motion, inventions related to the more famous motion photography of Eadweard Muybridge.

Eakins's subject in these two portrait photographs is the Philadelphia contralto Weda Cook. She posed for Eakins's large-scale painting, The Concert Singer of 189Q–1892. Cook came from Camden, New Jersey, and rose from rather humble circumstances to great success as a singer. Cook studied with the Philadelphia musician Charles Schmitz, and began singing regularly in the city in 1887. She was a friend of the poet Walt Whitman, and it was most likely during a visit to Whitman that Eakins first met her. Eakins was very impressed with Cook and asked her to pose for him, which she did intermittently for a period of two years. Inaddition to the painting , Eakins photographed Cook on several occasions, both alone and with her sisters, Maud and Katherine.

Several individuals that Eakins painted also appear in his photographs, but the photographs are not necessarily studies for the paintings. For instance, his photographs of Walt Whitman were made after he had painted the poet. Although some of the images,•such as these ofWeda Cook, are related to the paintings, Eakins's photographs should generally be considered as independent works of art. These two images, for example, emphasize the aesthetic properties of the medium; platinum prints allowed Eakins to fully manipulate light and atmospheric effects in his photographs.
Alison MacGinnitie

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Your current search criteria is: Object is "Weda Cook".

Addison Artist Council logo

Bartlett H. Hayes Prize Recipients


Reggie Burrows Hodges

Exhibition | Residency | Publication | Acquisition


Tommy Kha

Exhibition | Residency | Publication | Acquisition