Today's Inspiration- The Agnew Clinic

by - Saturday, April 05, 2014

I wrote a paper on this painting about 5 years ago, but I still obsess about it every time I see it. Thomas Eakins's Agnew Clinic (I think 1889?) is on display in Philidelphia. The painting shows a doctor performing a partial mastectomy in front of a classroom of medical students. Most of which seem to be engrossed in the activity in the foreground. The thing that captures my attention most is the nurse- she has such significant and prominent positioning in the composition, and she is the only other woman but the patient, but she is so disconnected from what is going on. In fact, she seems more distant and removed from the body than anyone, despite the assumption that a female nurse would be more empathetic and physically present for the patient. Just such a strange picture.

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