The current Eakins is possibly from this case. The painting does bear a label on the back with “NO/15 T.Eakins”. Since the seller stated that the work was only on eBay due to an unsuccessful payment from a recent auction, it is easy to track in which auction house it was sold before. Simply going through ARTFACT.COM gave me the answer.
The seller, unfortunately, might not have told the whole story. It was in Ivey-Selkirk Auction house one month ago, as lot 160. The estimation was $35,000.00 – 45,000.00, but the final price only reached $22,000. Even with 18% buyer premium, it was not sold at this auction for what the seller had claimed as 30 grand. Although it may be the sellers’ wish that the final price could match his own estimation of $100,000, judging from the pictures taken by the auction house (not included in the eBay listing), the condition of the painting is poor and a full restoration may be needed.
Thomas Eakins was one of the most undervalued artists of his time. If the painting is authentic, the condition tells that the painting has not been treasured as it should be. The label on the back of the wood panel even shows the original price: $47.50. For a quick comparison, in 1895, Henry Clay Frick paid to William Bouguereau $5,000 for a painting named “A mischievous girl”. Eakins’s price tag here seems meager. Unlike his contemporary John Singer Sargent, a painter of high society, Eakins painted who he knew, not who he knew had deep pockets. And Eakins did not paint idealism as did Bouguereau, instead he painted beautiful minds under the normal flesh. It was such a delight to see his “Concert singer” one year ago in Frick Art & Historic Center: besides the fabulous light and shade on the gawn, Weda Cook’looking is as melancholy as Whitman’s song that she is singing. At Butler’s Museum of Art, his painting of Beatrice Fenton who is in deep self-absorbed meditations, like his other works, is almost characteristically narrative under the calm surface. Glamour in style or richness in color is rare for Eakins, behind the darkness of the background is something psychological, a distinctive feature of Eakins, sometimes almost nerve rattling.
No matter in whose hands the current eBay listing ends, a mystery which will be disclosed within 3 days, with the current starting bid price ($30,000), it will for sure that the painting would be better preserved, possibly through some professional conservator. That would be a happy ending.
eBay number: 120141916511