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Abbott Handerson Thayer Portrait

Abbott Handerson Thayer

Also Known as: Abbott H. Thayer, Abbott Thayer

Boston, Massachusetts 1849

Dublin, New Hampshire 1921

Active in:

  • New York, New York
  • Scarborough, New York

Photo Caption:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Luce Artist Quote

"But never, with me, read between the lines, for there is . . . nothing there." Abbott Thayer, quoted in Nemerov, "Vanishing Americans: Abbott Thayer, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Attraction of Camouflage," American Art, Summer 1997


Painter, best known for his idealistic and allegorical paintings of women as angels and madonnas. His interest in color and nature led to his writing Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (1909), the basis for camouflage techniques in World War I.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

When Abbott Handerson Thayer turned eighteen, his family moved from Keene, New Hampshire, to Brooklyn, where the thriving art and literary scene fed his imagination. For a time Thayer studied in Paris, and soon after his return to New York his career prospered. But his wife, Kate, suffered from extreme depression, and Thayer struggled to sustain his inspiration without her emotional support. The loss of Kate remained a source of sadness and he looked for strength in his children, whom he painted as allegorical and religious figures. The family moved to Dublin, New Hampshire, where Thayer painted outdoors and wrote articles for professional journals on his theories of animal camouflage. In 1909 he coauthored with his son, Gerald, a book that became an important resource for camouflage techniques during World War I. (Murray, "Abbott Thayer's Stevenson Memorial," American Art, Summer 1999)