During a meeting of the Ontario Society of Artists in March of 1885, the members present voted that the thanks of the Society be expressed officially to certain artists who had contributed paintings to the current Art Loan Exhibition. Further to this expression of gratitude was the decision to grant to these individuals the privilege of honorary membership in the Society.
Outstanding among the eight artists named was the American painter Thomas Eakins (1844–1916). Indeed Eakins's participation in the 1885 Art Loan Exhibition, sponsored by the Ontario Society of Artists, and the honour of membership subsequently bestowed upon him, marks a significant confluence of the Canadian and American artistic communities. Greatly respected by the several young Canadian artists who had been his students, Eakins was also admired by older Canadian artists who shared many of the same aesthetic and stylistic sources and principles. Eakins, in turn, demonstrated his respect for his Canadian associates by selecting works of deep personal significance for the Toronto exhibition.