Sylvan Schendler has turned, as his main sources for his essay on Eakins, to the paintings themselves. He touches outwardly on the biographical facts, probes the paintings for what they reveal of the artist's vision. Central to Eakins' life: Philadelphia, serene and complacent, where he grew up and lived, to be ousted from his directorship of the Academy of Fine Arts ostensibly for removing a loin cloth from a male model; his relationship with his father, a writing master with larger ideas for his son, to whom he was close throughout his lifetime; study in Paris under Gerome, more influential as a man than as a painter; painterly influences, the discovery of Velasquez, others. An early romanticism matured into a vision of life in epic terms. Schendler interprets or rather reads from major works, from The Gross Clinic to the self portrait, where he sees the painter cognizant of ""the steady exercise of character and the destruction of unrealized creative possibility (sic)"" as the meaning of his life. Little is available on this American master; if not profound, this is a thoughtful study.