An American painter, naturalist, teacher and camouflage expert, Abbot Handerson Thayer is not as well-known as many of his friends and contemporaries, which included Theodore Roosevelt, Daniel Chester French and Mark Twain, but his works are in many of the most important art collections in the United States.
Additionally, the artist's lifelong obsession with animals and birds led him to contribute to a major book on protective coloration, or camouflage, which was used during World War I by military experts in many of the armed forces.
He was born in Boston in 1849 and studied at the Brooklyn Academy of Design for nearly eight years, and then travelled to Paris to study with Jean Leon Gerome. His work early on was very distinguished and well-received. His painting would evolve throughout his life, from realistic then to the more abstract as time passed.
After his years of study, he returned to the United States in 1879 and opened his own studio in New York. He was voted President of the Society of American Artists, but resigned in the early 1880s upon the deaths of two of his children only a year apart. He and his family left New York, wandering for several years. All the while he took portrait commissions, including Henry James and Mark Twain, before settling in Dublin, New Hampshire. After his first wife died, Thayer remarried a long-time friend and continued to lead a simple life in New Hampshire, taking on apprentices and helping to proliferate American Impressionism.
Today Thayer is most well known for his many portraits of idealized and often angelic, women as well as his many landscapes and floral paintings. His final paintings, of Mount Monadnock near his home in Dublin, are some of the most abstract of his many works.