Eakins's painting celebrates athletic teamwork while commemorating an actual event, a famous rowing race that took place on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia during May 1872. Throngs of spectators line the riverbank and watch as Barney and John Biglin negotiate the tricky turn around a stake marking the halfway point in the contest. Their competitors, seen in the middle distance at the right, lag behind. The Biglin brothers won the race, cementing their status as the most celebrated oarsmen of the era.
Trained in the United States and France, Eakins spent almost his entire artistic career in his hometown of Philadelphia. He is renowned for the unsentimental realism in his paintings, whose compositions he developed through painstakingly prepared figure and perspective drawings.
Long Branch, NJ, unknown location (Summer, 1878) as Biglen Brothers turning the Stake-boat; see Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures (Washington, D.C, 1996).
Boston, Charitable Mechanics Association, 13th Exhibition (2 September-2 November 1878) as Turning the Stake; see Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures (Washington, D.C, 1996).
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Society of Artists, 2nd Annual Exhibition (1 November-6 December 1880) as Turning the Stake, A pair oared Race; see Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures (Washington, D.C, 1996).
St. Louis, Art Hall, 21st St. Louis Fair, (3-8 October 1881) as Turning the Stake-boat; see Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures (Washington, D.C, 1996).
Denver, National Mining and Industrial Exposition, 1st Annual Exposition (1 August-30 September 1882) as Biglen Brothers turning the Stake-boat; see Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures (Washington, D.C, 1996).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition of the Works of Thomas Eakins (5 November-3 December 1917), illus. cat. no. 3, pl. 3 as The Biglin Brothers Turning the Stake-Boat.
Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the Late Thomas Eakins (23 December 1917-13 January 1918), illus. cat. no. 33, listed p. 86.
Philadelphia, Department of Fine Arts, Paintings, Sculpture, and Prints in the Department of Fine Arts Sesqui-centennial International Exposition (1926), listed cat. no. 360, p. 70.
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by Thomas Eakins, Albert P. Ryder, and J. Alden Weir (15 December 1927-23 January 1928)
Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Work of Thomas Eakins (March 1930)
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Sixth Loan Exhibition: Winslow Homer, Albert P. Ryder, Thomas Eakins (May, 1930), illus. cat. no. 94, listed p. 29.
Los Angeles, Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art, Olympic Competition and Exhibition of Art (30 July 30-31 August 1932), listed cat. no. 753, p. 51.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Genre: The Social Scene in Paintings and Prints (26 March-29 April 1935) cat. no. 28, listed p. 16, not illus.
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Official Exhibit of the Great Lakes Exposition (26 June-4 October 1936), listed cat. no. 355, p. 132 as Turning Stake Boat, or Biglin Brothers Turning Stake Boat.
Baltimore, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Thomas Eakins 1844-1916: A Retrospective Exhibition of His Paintings (1 December 1936-1 January 1937), illus. cat. no. 5.
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, American Painting from 1860 Until Today (23 June-4 October 1937), illus. cat. no. 56, pl. 9, listed p. 20 as Turning Stake Boat.
Detroit, Detroit Institute of Art, Eighteenth Annual Exhibition of American Art (2 April-3 May 1937) cat. no. 1, listed p. 8, not illus.
New York, National Academy of Design, The Special World's Fair Exhibition (8 May-25 July 1939), listed cat. no.213.
San Francisco, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Seven Centuries of Painting: A Loan Exhibition of Old and Modern Masters (29 December 1939 - 28 January 1940), illus. cat. no. L-153, listed p. 50.
Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Five Centuries of Marine Painting (6 March-5 April 1942), listed no. 117, pp. 37-38, not illus.
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Thomas Eakins Centennial Exhibitions (8 April-14 May, 1944), illus. cat. no. 17, p. 123, listed p. 134.
New York, M. Knoedler & Company, A Loan Exhibition of the Works of Thomas Eakins 1844-1944, Commemorating the Centennial of His Birth (3 June-31 July 1944) illus. cat. no. 6.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Sport in American Art (10 October-10 December 1944), listed cat. no. 26, p.11, not illus.
Pittsburgh, Department of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute, Thomas Eakins: Centennial Exhibition 1844-1944 (26 April-1 June 1945), illus. cat
|1916-1927||Susan MacDowell Eakins [1851-1938], Philadelphia, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art1|
|1927-||The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio|
1Ownership of Eakins' unsold works passed to his wife, Susan Macdowell Eakins, upon his death in 1916.