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Correspondence, Abbott H. Thayer to the Beaches, Dewing, Endicott, the Kings

Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921  Search this
Beach, Ella  Search this
Beach, Moses Sperry, 1822-1892  Search this
Beach, Violet  Search this
Bloede, Gertrude  Search this
Dewing, M. O. (Maria Oakey), 1855-1927  Search this
Endicott, William Crowninshield, 1826-1900  Search this
King, Dr. Samuel T.  Search this
Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921  Search this
Thayer, Emma B., 1850-1924  Search this
Collection Creator:
Brumbaugh, Thomas B. (Thomas Brendle), 1921-  Search this
10 Items (Letters, written in ink)
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
This folder is an amalgamation of letters written by Abbott H. Thayer to various people, mostly relatives. The recipients include Moses Beach, Ella Beach, Violet Beach, Maria Oakey Dewing, Gertrude Bloede, and Dr. Samuel T. King.
Organized alphabetically by recipient.
Biographical / Historical:
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.
Kate Bloede (1846-1890) was Abbott Thayer's first wife, who tragically died following a long battle with depression. Abbott used Kate as a model during his painting career. The couple lived in Paris, where their first two children were born. Upon their return to New York, the Thayers had three more children. In May 1888, Kate developed "melancholia," or depression, following the death of her father, Gustav Bloede. She was admitted to Bloomingdale Hospital, where she was treated for six months. Although her family visited her often, she did not respond well. Abbott transferred Kate to McLean Asylum in the winter of 1888, and then to a sanitorium in 1890. Pulmonary complications developed and Kate died on May 3, 1891. Animosities between Abbott and the Bloede family developed soon after Kate's death.
Emma Beach was Abbott Thayer's second wife, whom he married four months to the day after Kate Bloede's death. She met the couple during the summer of 1881, when they were vacationing in Nantucket. Beach was the daughter of Moses Beach, the former owner of the New York Sun. She was an art student, and over the next few years she visited the Thayers often, developing a close relationship with the children. Emma actually helped Thayer transfer Kate to the McLean Asylum. On July 27, 1891, Abbott wrote to Emma, imploring her to move in permanently with the family for the sake of the children. Her family was quite against this proposal, but the two were married in Nantucket on September 3, 1891. This caused problems between Abbott and the Bloedes, particularly offending Gertrude Bloede and Indie Bloede King, Kate's sisters.
Violet and Ella Beach were Emma Beach's sisters.
Dr. Samuel T. King was Abbott's brother-in-law, the husband of Indie Bloede. Thayer was quite close with King, and therefore it was King to whom he wrote in an attempt to patch things over with the Bloede family, especially Gertrude Bloede. This relationship later deteriorated, with King supporting his wife as opposed to Thayer.
Gertrude Bloede was Kate's sister and was married to Dr. King. It was Gertrude who was most offended when Thayer quickly remarried after Kate's death, and it was Gertrude whom Abbott attempted to reach out to after she refused to speak to him. Gertrude lived a double life as a poet. She published several pieces under the name "Stuart Sterne" in the 19th century.
William Endicott was an American politician from Massachusetts who served as Secretary of War and was influential on the Board on Fortification. Following his retirement, he returned to Boston, was overseer of Harvard College (his Alma mater) and president of the Peabody Academy of Science and Peabody Education Fund. It appears that Thayer's letter responds to a request from Endicott that Abbott participate in a mural in Massachusetts.
Maria Oakey Dewing was the wife of Thomas Wilmer Dewing, an American painter at the turn of the century. Maria herself was an artist who painted mostly flowers, although she began by painting figures. She studied art at the Cooper Union in New York City.
Local Numbers:
FSA A2009.06 1
Other Archival Materials:
Thomas B. Brumbaugh research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1876-1994 (bulk 1960s-1994); Also located at Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Art, American  Search this
Correspondence -- 19th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Collection Citation:
The Brumbaugh Collection of Artist Letters. FSA.A2009.06. National Museum of Asian Art Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
FSA.A2009.06, Series FSA A2009.06 1
See more items in:
The Brumbaugh Collection of Artist Letters
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives

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