Thomas Eakins - The Gross ClinicOil on canvas, 1875, 198,12 x 243,84 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia

Doctor or Devil?


Picture description and interpretation of the famous painting'Die Klinik Gross' by Thomas Eakins!

Thomas Eakins - The Gross Clinic

Samuel Gross, the famous surgeon, gives a lecture for his students. But he seems a little absent and in thought - his eyes are in the dark. He's got a bloodied knife in his hand. To the right of Gross, men gather around a wound they are operating on.

All the doctors in the picture are identified and each of them has had a personal or business relationship with Gross. Eakin's'realism' even reaches so far that students could be named who are in the upper rows and observe the hustle and bustle. They are drawn in the shadow; only the reporter on the left of the picture stands out and connects both reasons for the picture. In the foreground we see the surgical instruments that the doctors use. In the table you can also see the signature of the artist, who as a drawing student has also placed himself in the first row on the left side of the picture. Only the patient from whom necrotic tissue is removed plays a minor role and remains anonymous - only the thigh is visible.

The only emotion of the sterile assembly comes from a woman in front left - is she the mother of the unknown? Gross, on the other hand, has something devilish about him. No emphatic connection to the patient is discernible and the students also sit at a distance.

The Gross Clinic combines the high art of realism with an important testimony to the history of medicine. In 2008, the Philadelphia Museum often raised as much as $68 million to keep the painting on its premises. The work was of great symbolic value for the city, as Samuel Gross had held his professorship in Philadelphia.

© the artinspector / alexandra tuschka