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Virgin Enthroned
1891
oil
184.3 x 133.2 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly



Thayer used his children—Mary in the center, Gerald and Gladys at her sides—as models for this painting. Its composition is based on the Renaissance type called a "sacred conversation," in which donors and saints are depicted on either side of the Virgin Mary. Contemporary critics hailed it as a masterpiece of religious painting; few understood that the painting represented Thayer's children.