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Minerva in a Chariot

ca. 1894 Abbott Handerson Thayer Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1849 Died: Dublin, New Hampshire 1921 oil on canvas 38 1/8 x 53 3/4 in. (96.7 x 136.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John Gellatly 1929.6.121 Not currently on view

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In 1894, Abbott Thayer won a commission to create a large mosaic panel of the goddess Minerva for the Library of Congress, and he painted this oil sketch before executing the final version in glass. He was to receive $4000 for the completed project, but engineers and architects at the library quickly grew frustrated with Thayer’s unwillingness to comply with their instructions. After years of argument, the commission was given to another prominent muralist, Elihu Vedder. His Minerva now presides over the landing of what was once the library’s main staircase. (Cartwright, “Reading Rooms: Interpreting the American Public Library Mural, 1890-1930,” PhD diss., Univ. Michigan, 1994)


Animal - horse

Dress - historic - classical dress

Figure female - full length

Mythology - classical - Minerva

Travel - land - chariot


paint - oil

fabric - canvas