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Angel
1887
oil
92 x 71.5 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly



The first and best-known of Thayer's angel paintings, it is at once a portrait and an allegory of hope and spirituality. As his daughter Mary posed for the figure at the age of eleven, her mother was exhibiting the first signs of mental illness. The Renaissance-inspired frame, called a "tabernacle" type, was designed by the American architect Stanford White especially for this painting.