National Gallery Scores Masterpiece by Eakins

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The National Gallery of Art has co-purchased one of the 19th century's best-known American paintings, "The Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins, for $68 million. The price was a record for a work by the famous and once-scandalous Philadelphia artist.

"This is the most important sale of a 19th-century American painting ever," said Marc Porter, president of Christie's Americas, which facilitated the sale. He said the previous records for Eakins paintings were $5.4 million in 2003 at an auction and $10 million in 1990 in a private sale.

Bought for $200 in 1878 by Thomas Jefferson University, a medical and health sciences school in Philadelphia, the 8-by-7-foot painting is a dramatically shadowed depiction of surgery on a boy whose mother cringes in the background.

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