Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (A May Morning in the Park)

The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (A May Morning in the Park)

Secen people and a driver sit inn a red coach driven by four brown horses.  They're positioned on a path in Fairmount Park, surrounded by grass and trees.  The lady wears a colorful dress and hat; the men all wear hats, the majority of which are top hats.

Eakins referenced wax sculptures and Eadweard Muybridge’s equine photographic studies in order to accurately depict horses in motion. (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Philadelphia Museum of Art

This work features Fairman Rogers (1833-1900), a civil engineer and one of the first Philadelphians to own a four-in-hand coach, driving through Fairmount Park with his family. To accurately depict the horses in motion, Eakins not only created wax sculptures of the animals, but he also relied upon Eadweard Muybridge’s groundbreaking equine photographs, which precisely captured the positions of horses’ limbs while trotting. Instead of painting the individual spokes of the moving wheels, however, Eakins represented them as blurred marks as the human eye would have seen them.

The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (A May Morning in the Park), 1879-80. Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.

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