Friday, July 31, 2009

The Art and Life of Abbott Handerson Thayer

Angel

The Virgin

Winged Figure

Portrait of Raphael Welles Pumpelly


Noon


Girl Arranging Hair


I thought I would share one of my favorite artists with you. His name is Abbott Handerson Thayer. I am sure many of you have seen his work. The American Art Museum in Washington DC has quite a few of his paintings.

Abbott Handerson Thayer was born in Boston to a country doctor and his wife. He became quite fascinated with nature and considered himself a naturalists. He studied James Audubon's bird paintings and spent a considerable time practicing painting the barn life at home. He attended art school in New york and Paris. Came home and married. He settled in New Hampshire.

Life was good. He set up a portrait studio and painted Mark Twain, Henry James and others. Then two of his precious children died within a year of each other. His wife and the three remaining children became nomads for a while.

Abbott Handerson Thayer was probably so stressed at this time that his bi polar disorder became more than just an occasional oddity. He began to suffer from anxiety attacks which he called "frightful fits". Slowly life got back on track. His first wife died and he remarried. He often painted the girl they hired to help with the children and chores. He opened a new studio and also began to teach.

He was known for his beautiful wings in his paintings. They were thought to be almost life like. I am sure his study of nature had a lot to do with that. He also used his three children - Mary, Gerald and Glady's - in his paintings. You can see all three in his painting the Virgin. Also Mary is one of his winged angels. Glady's also became a painter when she grew up.

The thing that he is also noted for is camouflage. They call him the father of camouflage. He studied how animals and birds used there coloring to hide from predators and to help the hunt. He helped his son write the first book on this subject. They were known to "paint" their clothes to study animals and birds.

I am drawn to the rich colors that are sometimes muted, the soulful eyes of his models, and the lovely landscapes he uses as his backgrounds. I hope you enjoy his paintings.

15 comments:

dolls like us said...

I love what he did he was ahead of he's time.

Bea said...

Thank you Elizabeth for posting this. I love his work. It's really beautiful. :)Bea

bockel24 said...

I just love his angels, and two of the pics you´ve shown were new to me - thanks for sharing!

Kaz said...

This is a new artist to me, but I love his work. It's very soft and delicate.

Have a very Happy Birthday!!

Kaz xx

sue pieper said...

Thanks for sharing the history of the artist and the art itself. Even though I've always loved those paintings, I've never done any research on them, and as interesting as it was to read hopefully I'll start doing some research on my own!

Janice said...

Love the one with the girl arranging her hair.

Amy said...

Those paintings are so beautiful. Thank you for blogging about this amazing artist...very talented. I think my favorite is "The Virgin".

Jamie said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!! Sweet Elizabeth!!!!! I hope your birthday weekend was wonderful. I love the random act of kindness you requested. Today I will take my Mother-in-law to the museum with us so she too can see the wonder in the boy's eyes:) I love Thayer too. I did not know that about the camouflage. How cool! Thank you for sharing with us. Love, Jamie

area rug cleaning Los Angeles said...

I’m doing really have a very wide vocabulary of famous artist and I’m not an art expert or anything. I have to say his very talented I’m in love with his work of art. Fascinating!

decorators fabric said...

No words can describe the beauty of this canvas. Very enchanting, the color shading are very well mixed and the whole collection is stunning.

Martina2801 said...

Elizabeth, the images you´re sharing are so beautifully and uniquely. It's a pleasure to visit your blog.
Thank you very,very much!

BT said...

I just love this work too. Those wings are fantastic, so realistic and the faces are very modern. An artist before his time I think. Thank you for the artist's info. Excellent post.

Michi Michaelson, Orange County, CA said...

These are truly BEAUTIFUL paintings, Elizabeth . . . no wonder he is one of your favorite artists!!! Hope you have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

sjhackney said...

Thanks Elizabeth for sharing these beautiful paintings and the artist. I really need more art education. Sally Hackney

Patti said...

wow, what an amazing story! I wasn't familiar with the artist - what a life - and his work is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!