Thomas B. Brumbaugh research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1876-1994 (bulk 1960s-1994); e Also located at; a Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Abbott Handerson Thayer was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 12, 1849 to a distinguished family. He moved from Boston to Brooklyn during his childhood, where he attended the National Academy of Design. Thayer often used his wife, Kate Bloede Thayer, her sister Gertrude, and his three children Mary, Gerald and Gladys as models. He also used Clara A. May as a model. His subjects included ethereal angels, landscapes, women, children, and flowers. When Kate died, Thayer's entire outlook on art and life changed. It had been Kate's family that introduced Thayer to the sense of idealism that comes from a German family who had immigrated to the United States. He had learned about the romanticism surrounding art and literature from the Bloedes, all of which encouraged the artist to paint perfectly beautiful figures. Later in life, Thayer established a permanent household in Dublin, New Hampshire, with his new wife, Emma Beach. He loved to paint the surrounding mountains and birds. Interestingly, Charles Lang Freer was one of Thayer's patrons.
Clara May was one of Thayer's models. May met Thayer at the summer colony of Dublin in New Hampshire, where the two families were neighbors. Their friendship lasted around ten years, but this friendship withered following May's marriage to Reverend Paine. Following her marriage, May no longer worked as a model for Thayer.
Gerald Thayer was one of Abbott Thayer's sons, who wrote an unfinished thank you letter to May which was sent along with Abbott's letter.
Gift of Susan A. Hobbs.
This folder is an amalgamation of letters written by Abbott H. Thayer to his model and friend, Clara A. May. Also included is a thank-you letter from Thayer's son, Gerald, to May.
Thomas B. Brumbaugh collection of 19th and 20th century American artists' correspondence 1831-1979. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of Susan A. Hobbs, 2009
Smithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, 1050 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20013-7012