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Portraits and Self-Portraits

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Painting: Portrait of Jennie Remington Thayer was much sought after for his portraits. His visual vocabulary from the 1880s referred to earlier American portraits, including those by the eighteenth-century Bostonian, John Singleton Copley. During this period, Thayer posed young women in light dresses against dramatic, dark backgrounds. Over time, his portraits evolved from depictions of an individual into character studies. The titles of these works rarely included the name of the sitter.

Thayer also made numerous self-portraits. Early examples show him as elegant and self-confident. After his first wife's death in 1891, he began to probe his own personality and mental states. Late in his career, he worked on a series of stark self-portraits, in which the balding, sometimes haggard artist presents himself full-face, devoid of any softening distractions.

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Pictured above: Miss Jennie Remington, oil, 97.4 x 66.6 cm. John Remington Zelenik


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