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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 19th century: A Bride
Abbott Handerson Thayer

Abbott Handerson Thayer

(born Boston, MA 1849 -- died Dublin, NH 1921)

"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

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)

Image Credits: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution