Underneath this image is an earlier composition, a portrait of Thayer’s three children that he had painted as a tribute to Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. But Thayer painted over this with the figure of an angel to convey a more encompassing, personal grief. The artist’s wife had died in 1891, and his many paintings of angels created thereafter suggest the mysteries of life, death, and the fate of the spirit.
The luminous angel shown here, seated at Stevenson’s tomb, is an emblem of memory, a light against oblivion. Just as Thayer’s love for his wife survived in the image of their children, Stevenson’s fame would live on in his works.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
- 81 5⁄8 x 60 1⁄8 in. (207.2 x 152.6 cm)
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of John Gellatly
- Mediums Description
- oil on canvas
- Fantasy – winged being
- Monument – memorial – Stevenson
- Figure female
- Landscape – mountain – Vaea
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI