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Abbot Handerson Thayer

Early days :

Abbott Handerson Thayer(August 12, 1849 – 1921), American artist, was born at Boston, Massachusetts.He was a pupil of Jean-Leonn Gerome at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and became a member of the Society of American Artists (1879), of the National Academy of Design (1901), and of the Royal Academy of San Luca, Rome.

Abbott Handerson Thayer

He spent the early part of his career in New York City. Thayer declined an invitation to join the Ten American Painters and settled in Dublin, New Hampshire in 1901. He was part of the art colony near Mount Monadnock.


Career :

As a painter of portraits, landscapes, animals and the ideal figure, he won high rank among American artists. Among his best-known pictures are "Virgin Enthroned, Caritas", "In Memoriam", "Robert Louis Stevenson", and "Portrait of a Young Woman"; and he did some decorative work for the Walker Art Building, Bowdoin College, Maine.




Thayer's wife was critically ill when he painted their 12 year old daughter Mary with angel wings in the above painting .Thayer enjoyed painting rapidly,spending  no more than three days at a time on a painting for fear of overworking it - though he sometimes choose to return to it later.

Thayer is also well known as a naturalist. He developed a theory of "protective coloration" in animals, which has attracted considerable attention among naturalists. According to this theory, "animals are painted by nature darkest on those parts which tend to be most lighted by the sky's light, and vice versa"; and the earth-brown of the upper parts, bathed in sky-light, equals the skylight color of the belly, bathed in earth-yellow and shadow. One of Thayer's most controversial theories purported that "large-scale protective coloration (or camouflage) had the unique capacity to bewilder and confuse the mind, especially when present in small spaces." For this theory, which he was never able to successfully prove, he drew some criticism among his peers.