Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921

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Painter; Dublin, New Hampshire.

From the description of Abbott Handerson Thayer papers, 1861-1936 [microform]. 1962. (Defense Special Weapons Agency). WorldCat record id: 79732064

American painter.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Dublin, N.H., to Mr. Clark, [no year] Jun. 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270571900

Artist Abbott Handerson Thayer was born in Boston and raised in rural New Hampshire, where he became an avid outdoorsman and showed talent as a painter. Educated at the Brooklyn Art School and the National Academy of Design, Thayer later trained in Europe. He found success immediately upon returning to the United States, receiving numerous commissions and becoming a popular portrait artist; he was noted for his ability to capture a strong likeness of his subject while connoting idealized qualities. In 1901, Thayer's close-knit family moved to a modest cottage in Dublin, New Hampshire, where they communed with nature and he gradually emphasized landscape painting. He also had a second career as a naturalist, developing theories of camouflage in animals, which he then promoted to the Allied Armies during World War I.

From the description of Abbott H. Thayer letter to My dear Col. Higginson, 1907 Oct. 12. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 70662203

Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) was a painter from Dublin, N.H.

Thayer attended the Brooklyn Academy of Design and the École des Beaux-Arts; published the book "Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom" in 1909 with his son Gerald.

From the description of Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer family papers, 1851-1999, bulk 1881-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 226956354

Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) was born in Boston to Dr. William Henry Thayer and Ellen Handerson Thayer. After his birth his family moved to Woodstock, Vermont, and in 1855 settled in Keene, New Hampshire. As a child Thayer developed a love of nature that was encouraged by his close family, which included three sisters, Ellen, Margaret, and Susan. At the age of fifteen he was sent to the Chauncy Hall School in Boston, and while there he met Henry D. Morse, an amateur animal painter. Under Morse's instruction Abbott developed his skill in painting birds and other wildlife and began painting animal portraits on commission. In 1867 he moved to Brooklyn, New York and attended the Brooklyn Academy of Design where he studied under J. B. Whittaker for two years. In 1868 he began showing his work at the National Academy of Design and enrolled there in 1870, studying under Lemuel Wilmarth. He met many emerging artists during this period, including his future first wife, Kate Bloede and his close friend, Daniel Chester French. Thayer became part of progressive art circles, showing his work at the newly formed Society of American Artists, while continuing to develop his skill as an animal and landscape painter.

Thayer and Kate Bloede were married in 1875. They moved to Paris and he studied at the ?cole des Beaux-Arts, first under Henri Lehmann, and then with Jean-Léon Gérome. While in Europe he befriended fellow artists Everton Sainsbury, Thomas Millie Dow, George de Forest Brush, and Dwight Tryon. His daughter Mary was born in 1876 and his son William Henry in 1878. The family returned to America in 1879 and settled in his parent's home in Brooklyn, where he changed his focus to portraits. After the tragic deaths of William Henry in 1880 and of their second son, Ralph Waldo, in 1881, the family led a migratory existence living in various parts of New England. In 1881 while living in Nantucket they met Emmeline (Emma) Beach (1850-1924) who would become close friends with Abbott and Kate and would be known as "Addie" to the family. In 1883 their son Gerald was born and in 1886 their daughter Gladys was born. In 1887 Thayer settled his family in Keene, New Hampshire, and began teaching a small group of students. Around this time his wife began suffering from severe depression and went to a sanatorium in 1888. She died in 1891 and that fall Thayer married Emma Beach who had helped to care for him and his children during his wife's illness.

Despite family tragedies, Thayer became a leader in the New York art world during the 1880s and 1890s. He was a successful portraitist and painted allegorical figures of angels, women, and children, which were popular among collectors of this period, including his patrons Charles Lang Freer and John Gellatly. He often used his children as models, especially his eldest daughter, Mary.

In the late 1880s one of Thayer's students, Mary Amory Greene, built a house and studio for the Thayer family on her land in Dublin, New Hampshire, and in 1901 the family settled there permanently. Many of Thayer's artist friends lived nearby, such as Richard Meryman and George de Forest Brush, and the Thayer family frequently entertained prominent visitors such as Edward Waldo Emerson and Samuel Clemens. Abbott Thayer taught painting to his children, and Gerald and Gladys both became artists and art educators. Gladys married David Reasoner, a student of Abbott Thayer who later became his assistant. Other students of Thayer included Rockwell Kent, Ben Foster, Barry Faulkner, and Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Greatly influenced by transcendentalism and the spirituality of nature, Thayer again began to paint landscapes, especially of nearby Mount Monadnock. He was very interested in the study of protective coloration in the wild, and was an advocate for nature conservation and bird sanctuaries. He published the book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom in 1909 with his son Gerald, but encountered much resistance to his theories. Thayer also wrote about how his camouflage theories could be applied to military warships and uniforms. These theories failed to gain widespread government interest and after suffering from nervous exhaustion, he spent the rest of his life painting landscapes at his home in Dublin, until his death in 1921.

From the guide to the Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999 (bulk 1881-1950), (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch interview, 1974 Jan. 30 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Milch Galleries. Milch Galleries exhibition catalogs, [undated] and 1916-1921. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hardy, Manly, 1832-1910. [Correspondence], 1877-1910. Raymond H. Fogler Library
creatorOf James, William, 1882-1961. William James papers, 1883-1957. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, ca. 1900s-1970s. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Joseph Lindon Smith papers, 1647-1965, bulk 1873-1965 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Louis Agassiz Fuertes papers, 1892-1954, 1892-1927 (bulk) Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966. Barry Faulkner papers, 1900-1973. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Carnegie Institute. Museum of Art. Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art records, 1883-1962, bulk 1885-1940. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999 (bulk 1881-1950) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Gellatly, John, 1853-1931. John Gellatly letters received from artists, 1887-1931. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Thomas B. Brumbaugh research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1876-1994 (bulk 1960s-1994) Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. Abbott H. Thayer letter to My dear Col. Higginson, 1907 Oct. 12. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Charles Lang Freer Papers, 1876-1931 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
referencedIn Burroughs, John, 1837-1921. Papers of John Burroughs [manuscript], 1856-1943. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, ca. 1900s-1970s. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Murray, Richard, 1942-. Richard Murray research material regarding Abbott Handerson Thayer, circa 1900-2006. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Thayer, Abbott Henderson, 1849-1921 : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Bowditch, Mary Orne, 1883-. Memoir, 1950. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966. Barry Faulkner papers, circa 1858-1973. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919. Charles Lang Freer selected papers, 1876-1931. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. Collection, 1871-1937. American Museum of Natural History
creatorOf Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. Autograph letter signed : Dublin, N.H., to Mr. Clark, [no year] Jun. 16. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, 1888-1979. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Milch Gallery records, 1911-1980 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Mackintosh, Henry S., recipient. Letters from various correspondents, 1861-1920 (inclusive), 1892-1918 (bulk). Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer family papers, 1851-1999, bulk 1881-1950. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf McGuigan, Mary K.,. Mary K. McGuigan and John F. McGuigan Jr. artists' letters collection, 1826-1938. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Almy family. Papers, 1649-1984 (inclusive), 1832-1984 (bulk). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, 1888-1979 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Thomas Wentworth Higginson correspondence, 1843-1911. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. Abbott Handerson Thayer papers, 1861-1936 [microform]. Defense Special Weapons Agency
referencedIn Stanford White Papers, 1873-1928 © 2011 New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch interview, 1974 Jan. 30. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn John Jay Chapman papers, 1841-1940. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Letters from various correspondents, 1861-1920 (inclusive), 1892-1918 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Marion Walton papers, 1915-1976 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Hawthorne, Charles Webster, 1872-1930. Charles Webster and Marion Campbell Hawthorne papers, 1870-1983. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Gardner, Isabella Stewart, 1840-1924. Isabella Stewart Gardner papers, 1760-1956. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Vose Galleries of Boston records, circa 1876, 1890s-1996 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Weitenkampf, Frank, 1866-1962. Frank Weitenkampf letters, 1889-1942. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Milch Gallery. Milch Gallery records, 1911-1980. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, ca. 1900s-1970s. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn M. Knoedler & Co. M. Knoedler & Co. exhibition catalogs, [undated] and 1912-1922. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, 1855-1936. The Drawings of Abbott Thayer / Elizabeth Robins Pennell letter [ca. 1921]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 26: Office Of The Secretary, Incoming Corres..
referencedIn Additional letters from various correspondents, 1849-1931. Houghton Library.
referencedIn White, Nelson C. Nelson and Henry C. White research material, 1898-1978. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf McGuigan, Mary K.,. Mary K. McGuigan and John F. McGuigan Jr. artists' letters collection, 1893-1931 (bulk 1926-1931). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Oral history interview with Nancy Douglas Bowditch, 1974 Jan. 30. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Smith, Joseph Lindon, 1863-1950. Joseph Lindon Smith and Smith family papers, 1647-1965 (bulk 1873-1965). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn James, Alexander, 1890-1946. Alexander Robertson James papers, 1893-1983 1914-1946 (bulk dates). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Page, Marie Danforth, 1869-1940. Marie Danforth Page papers, 1893-1983. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919. Charles Lang Freer selected papers, 1876-1931. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Sterner, Marie, 1880-1953. Marie Sterner and Marie Sterner Gallery papers, 1913-1951. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, circa 1860-1985. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Smith, Joseph Lindon, 1863-1950. Joseph Lindon Smith papers, 1647-1965, bulk 1873-1965. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Walton, Marion, b. 1899. Marion Walton papers, 1915-1976. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Pratt Institute. Pratt Institute exhibition catalogs, 1916-1924. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hart, Charles Henry, 1847-1918. Letters to Charles Henry Hart from artists, 1863-1915. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art records, 1883-1962, bulk 1885-1940 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Barry Faulkner papers, circa 1858-1973 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Richard Murray research material regarding Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1948-2004, bulk 1994-2001 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933. Charles A. Platt letter collection, [ca. 1887]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Vose Galleries of Boston. Vose Galleries of Boston records, 1871-1993. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Brumbaugh, Thomas B. (Thomas Brendle), 1921-2011. Thomas B. Brumbaugh research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1876-1994 (bulk 1960s-1994). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn William James Jr. papers, 1857-1960 (inclusive), 1911-1959 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Akeley, Carl Ethan, 1864-1926. Autograph collection of Raymond Gorges [manuscript], 1725-1928. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Century illustrated monthly magazine. Century Magazine letters, 1870-1918. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Murray, Richard N., 1942-2006. Richard Murray research material regarding Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1948-2004, bulk 1994-2001. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Portrait file: Guide. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Milch Gallery. Milch Gallery records, 1911-1980. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn William James papers, 1803-1941 (inclusive) 1862-1910 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf McGuigan, Mary,. Mary and John F. McGuigan artists' letters collection, 1893-1931 (bulk 1926-1931). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Amy Lowell correspondence, 1883-1927 (inclusive), 1910-1925 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn James, William, 1882-1961. Abbott Handerson Thayer death mask [art original], after 1921. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1874-1927. Louis Agassiz Fuertes papers, 1892-1954, 1892-1927 (bulk). Cornell University Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 33: Office Of The Secretary, Outgoing Corres..
referencedIn Ralph Waldo Emerson letters from various correspondents, ca. 1814-1882. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Additional papers, 1832-1984 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Almy family. Additional papers, 1832-1984 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
creatorOf Ball, Caroline Peddle, 1869-1938. Abbott Handerson Thayer letter and drawings to Caroline Peddle Ball, [ca. 1890-1893]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Vose Galleries of Boston. Vose Galleries of Boston records, circa 1876, 1890s-1996. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lang, Margaret Ruthven. Letters received, 1880 April 19-1903 May 12. Boston Athenaeum
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Almy family. family
associatedWith Almy family. person
associatedWith ALMY FAMILY family
associatedWith Archives of American Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Ball, Caroline Peddle, 1869-1938. person
associatedWith Bowditch, Mary Orne, 1883- person
associatedWith Bowditch, Nancy Douglas. person
associatedWith Brumbaugh, Thomas B. (Thomas Brendle), 1921-2011. person
associatedWith Burroughs, John, 1837-1921. person
associatedWith Carnegie Institute. Museum of Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Century illustrated monthly magazine. corporateBody
correspondedWith Chapman, John Jay, 1862-1933 person
associatedWith Clark, John S., 19th cent, person
associatedWith Clemens, Samuel Langhorne, 1835-1910. person
associatedWith Colman, Samuel, 1832-1920. person
associatedWith Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948. person
associatedWith Dow, Thomas Millie person
associatedWith Dow, Thomas Millie. person
associatedWith Emerson, Edward Waldo, 1844-1930. person
associatedWith Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882. person
associatedWith Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966. person
associatedWith Foster, Ben, 1852-1926. person
associatedWith Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919. person
associatedWith Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith French, Daniel Chester. person
associatedWith French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931 person
associatedWith Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1874-1927. person
associatedWith Gardner, Isabella Stewart, 1840-1924. person
associatedWith Gellatly, John, 1853-1931. person
associatedWith Glasgow, Robert I., person
associatedWith Hardy, Manly, 1832-1910. person
associatedWith Hart, Charles Henry, 1847-1918. person
associatedWith Hawthorne, Charles Webster, 1872-1930. person
associatedWith Hayden, Ferdinand Vandeveer person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Henshaw, Samuel, 1852-1941 person
associatedWith Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911, person
associatedWith James, Alexander, 1890-1946. person
correspondedWith James, William, 1842-1910 person
correspondedWith James, William, 1882-1961 person
associatedWith James, William, 1882-1961. person
associatedWith Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971. person
associatedWith Lang, Margaret Ruthven. person
correspondedWith Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925 person
associatedWith Mackintosh, Henry S., recipient. person
associatedWith Mackintosh, Henry S., recipient. person
associatedWith McGuigan, Mary, person
associatedWith McGuigan, Mary K., person
associatedWith Meryman, Richard Sumner, 1881-1963. person
associatedWith Milch Galleries. corporateBody
associatedWith Milch Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith M. Knoedler & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Murray, Richard person
associatedWith Murray, Richard, 1942- person
associatedWith Page, Marie Danforth, 1869-1940. person
associatedWith Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, 1855-1936. person
associatedWith Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933. person
associatedWith Plunket, Jean Reasoner. person
associatedWith Pratt Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Reasoner, David person
associatedWith Reasoner, David. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. person
associatedWith Sainsbury, Everton person
associatedWith Sainsbury, Everton. person
associatedWith Smith, Joseph Lindon, 1863-1950. person
associatedWith Sterner, Marie, 1880-1953. person
associatedWith Taber, E. M. person
associatedWith Taber, E. M. person
associatedWith Thayer, Emma B., 1850-1924. person
associatedWith Thayer, Gerald Handerson, 1883-1939. person
associatedWith Thayer, Gladys, 1886 or 7-1945. person
associatedWith Thayer, Kate Bloede person
associatedWith Thayer, Kate Bloede. person
associatedWith Thayer, Mary person
associatedWith Thayer, Mary. person
associatedWith Vose Galleries of Boston. corporateBody
associatedWith Walton, Marion person
associatedWith Walton, Marion, b. 1899. person
associatedWith Weitenkampf, Frank, 1866-1962. person
associatedWith White, Nelson C. person
associatedWith White, Stanford, 1853-1906. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New Hampshire--Dublin
United States
Subject
Painters--New Hampshire--Dublin
Painters--Correspondence
Painters
Naturalists
Applications for positions
Painters, American
Art and camouflage
Camouflage (Biology)
Surveys And Explorations, General
Smithsonian Publications
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1849-08-12

Death 1921-05-29

Americans

Information

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