Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

The Agnew Clinic

The Agnew Clinic (or The Clinic of Dr. Agnew) is an oil painting by American artist Thomas Eakins. It was commissioned by the class of 1889 of the University of Pennsylvania medical students to honor the anatomist and surgeon David Hayes Agnew on his retirement from teaching. It depicts Dr. Agnew performing a partial mastectomy in a medical amphitheater. Also present are several other doctors, the operating room nurse, the medical students (all of whom could have been identified at the time by their name) and the artist himself, the rightmost of the pair behind the nurse.

The painting dates from 1889, a transition of fourteen year from Eakins’s earlier The Gross Clinic (1875) during which white medical coats replaced black frock coats. It was commissioned at the time for $750. It is Eakins’ largest work, controversial even when it was first exhibited, because it showed a half-undressed woman exposed to a group of male observers.

GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief

Summer 2018



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