Susan Hannah MacDowell Eakins was the fifth of eight children, the daughter of the Philadelphia engraver William MacDowell. After seeing The Gross Clinic at the Haseltine Gallery, she resolved to study with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. One of Eakins' finest students, she was the first winner of the Mary Smith Prize, as well as a leader of the student body. MacDowell and Eakins married in 1884.
She continued to paint sporadically and--being an avid photographer--often used photographs as compositional aids for her paintings.
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