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Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers

Creator:
Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921  Search this
Names:
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne, 1835-1910  Search this
Colman, Samuel, 1832-1920  Search this
Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948  Search this
Dow, Thomas Millie  Search this
Emerson, Edward Waldo, 1844-1930  Search this
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882  Search this
Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966  Search this
Foster, Ben, 1852-1926  Search this
Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919  Search this
French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931  Search this
Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1874-1927  Search this
Gellatly, John, 1853-1931  Search this
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971  Search this
Meryman, Richard Sumner, 1881-1963  Search this
Plunket, Jean Reasoner  Search this
Reasoner, David  Search this
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919  Search this
Sainsbury, Everton  Search this
Taber, E. M.  Search this
Thayer, Emma B., 1850-1924  Search this
Thayer, Gerald Handerson, 1883-1939  Search this
Thayer, Gladys, 1886 or 7-1945  Search this
Thayer, Kate Bloede  Search this
Thayer, Mary  Search this
White, Stanford, 1853-1906  Search this
Extent:
5.12 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Date:
1851-1999
bulk 1881-1950
Summary:
The papers of painter and naturalist, Abbott Handerson Thayer, and the Thayer family date from 1851 to 1999, with the bulk of the material dating from 1881 to 1950, and measure 5.12 linear feet. Thayer's painting career, interest in concealing coloration (camouflage) in nature, and relationships with artists, patrons, family, and friends are documented through correspondence, writings, scattered legal and financial records, printed materials, and a scrapbook. Photographs are of Thayer, his family, studio, and friends, including artists. The collection also contains family papers created by his second wife, Emma Beach Thayer, his son Gerald, his daughters Mary and Gladys, and Gladys' husband David Reasoner, who managed Thayer's estate after his death.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter and naturalist, Abbott Handerson Thayer, and the Thayer family date from 1851 to 1999, with the bulk of the material dating from 1881 to 1950, and measure 5.12 linear feet. Thayer's painting career, interest in concealing coloration in nature, and relationships with artists, patrons, family, and friends are documented through correspondence, writings, scattered legal and financial records, printed materials, and a scrapbook. Photographs are of Thayer, his family, studio, and friends, including artists. The collection also contains family papers created by his second wife, Emma Beach Thayer, his son Gerald, his daughters Mary and Gladys, and Gladys' husband David Reasoner, who managed Thayer's estate after his death.

Scattered Biographical Material includes a brief autobiographical statement and chronology by Abbott Thayer, lists of artworks by Abbott Thayer and Gladys Thayer Reasoner, and biographical information about Thayer's granddaughter, Jean Reasoner Plunket. Two linear feet of family correspondence includes Abott Thayer's correspondence with patrons Charles L. Freer and John Gellatly; with many artists, several of whom were close friends, including Samuel Colman, Thomas Millie Dow, Daniel Chester French, Richard Meryman, Everton Sainsbury, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and E. M. Taber; and former students, such as Ben Foster and Barry Faulkner; and with other friends, many of them prominent members of society, such as Samuel Clemens, Royal Cortissoz, Edward Waldo Emerson, and Stanford White. Also found is Thayer's correspondence with scientists and naturalists discussing his theories on protective coloration in nature. Correspondence of his second wife Emma Beach Thayer, his first wife, Kate Bloede Thayer, his daughter, Gladys Thayer Reasoner, her husband and executor of Thayer's estate, David Reasoner, and other family members are also included in the papers.

Writings and notes by Thayer record his thoughts on concealing coloration, nature, restoration of artwork, and other topics. Writings by others include those by Emma Beach Thayer, daughters Mary and Gladys, and Thayer scholars. The collection also contains correspondence of David Reasoner and other family members, as well as financial and legal documents regarding the estate of Abbott Handerson Thayer and Emma Beach Thayer. Additional financial and legal material includes ledgers, accounts statements, bills, a patent granted to Thayer and Gerome Brush, legal agreements, property deeds, and a map of Thayer's property.

Printed material include books, including one written by Theodore Roosevelt in response to Thayer's book on concealing coloration. Also found are newspaper and magazine clippings, and exhibition announcements and catalogs. Photographs are of Abbott Thayer, his wife Emma; his studio and home in Dublin, New Hampshire; friends, including Rockwell Kent and Ralph Waldo Emerson; and of unidentified people. Artwork includes a few drawings by Thayer, drawings and paintings by his children, and sketchbooks belonging to David Reasoner and Jean Reasoner Plunket. The collection also includes one large scrapbook kept by David Reasoner documenting Abbott Thayer's artwork.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 10 series. Glass plate negative is housed separately and closed to researchers.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1878 - circa 1966 (Box 1; 7 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1867-1987 (Box 1-3; 2.0 linear feet)

Series 3: Writings, 1888-1945 (Box 3; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 4: Estate Papers, 1921-1954 (Box 3-4; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 5: Other Financial Records, 1889-1957 (Box 4; 7 folders)

Series 6: Legal Records, 1891-1927 (Box 4; 4 folders)

Series 7: Printed Material, 1851, 1896-1999 (Box 4-5; 0.4 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1861-1933 (Box 5, MGP 2; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 9: Artwork, 1887 - circa 1940s (Box 5-6, 8; 8 folders)

Series 10: Scrapbook, circa 1910-1920 (Box 7; 0.3 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
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 École 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.
Related Material:
The Archives of American Art holds several collections related to Abbott Handerson Thayer. These include research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1895-1990, donated by Thomas B. Brumbaugh; the Abbott Handerson Thayer letter and drawings to Caroline Peddle Ball, circa 1890-1893; "The Drawings of Abbott Thayer", by Elizabeth Robins Pennell, circa 1921; and the Nelson and Henry C. White research material, 1898-1978, which includes many letters, photographs, and other material originally belonging to the Thayer family.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reels 48 and 3417) including a diary kept by Thayer, a "Family Record" written by William Henry Thayer, correspondence, printed material, photographs, and original artwork by Abbott Handerson Thayer. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
Anne Whiting, a niece of Abbott Handerson Thayer, loaned the Archives of American Art material for microfilming in 1971 and Jean Reasoner Plunket, Thayer's granddaughter, loaned original artwork for microfilming in 1985. The rest of the Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers were donated in 1999 by Abbott Thayer's great-grandson, John Plunket, who received the papers from his mother Jean Reasoner Plunket. In 2005 Bruce Gimelson donated additional material purchased from the relatives of Emma Beach Thayer.
Restrictions:
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Rights:
The Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Naturalists  Search this
Painters -- New Hampshire -- Dublin  Search this
Camouflage (Biology)  Search this
Art and camouflage  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Citation:
Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999 (bulk 1881-1950). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.thayabbo
See more items in:
Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-thayabbo
Online Media:

Nelson and Henry C. White research material

Creator:
White, Henry Cooke, 1861-1952  Search this
White, Nelson C.  Search this
Names:
Tryon Art Gallery  Search this
Barnard, George Grey, 1863-1938  Search this
Benson, Frank Weston, 1862-1951  Search this
Brush, George de Forest, 1855-1941  Search this
Churchill, Alfred Vance, 1864-1949  Search this
Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948  Search this
Currier, Elizabeth  Search this
Currier, J. Frank (Joseph Frank), 1843-1909  Search this
Dewing, M. O. (Maria Oakey), 1855-1927  Search this
Dewing, Thomas Wilmer, 1851-1938  Search this
Fantin-Latour, Henri, 1836-1904  Search this
Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919  Search this
Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1874-1927  Search this
James McNeill Whistler, 1834-1903  Search this
Kaup, Elizabeth Dewing, b. 1885  Search this
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945  Search this
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919  Search this
Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 1848-1907  Search this
Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925  Search this
Taber, E. M.  Search this
Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921  Search this
Thayer, Emma B., 1850-1924  Search this
Thayer, Gladys, 1886 or 7-1945  Search this
Thayer, Kate Bloede  Search this
Thayer, Wm. Henry (William Henry), 1822-1897  Search this
Tryon, Dwight William, 1849-1925  Search this
Williams, George Alfred, 1875-  Search this
Extent:
4.5 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Diaries
Photographs
Sketches
Date:
circa 1851-1961
Summary:
The research material of Connecticut artists and authors Nelson and Henry C. White, measures 4.5 linear feet and dates from circa 1851-1961. The bulk of the collection consists of Nelson C. White's correspondence, writings, and research, primarily related to J. Frank Currier and Abbott Handerson Thayer, and referencing Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Also found are the correspondence, writings, and research files of Nelson's father, Henry C. White, primarily relating to Dwight W. Tryon. Research files include artist correspondence, writings and notes, printed material, photographs of the artists, and photographs of artwork and exhibition installations.
Scope and Contents:
The research material of Connecticut artists and authors Nelson and Henry C. White, measures 4.5 linear feet and dates from circa 1851-1961. The bulk of the collection consists of Nelson C. White's correspondence, writings, and research, primarily related to J. Frank Currier and Abbott Handerson Thayer, and referencing Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Also found are the correspondence, writings, and research files of Nelson's father, Henry C. White, primarily relating to Dwight W. Tryon. Research files include artist correspondence, writings and notes, printed material, photographs of the artists, and photographs of artwork and exhibition installations.

Nelson C. White's correspondence is with Elizabeth Currier, gallery owners, and other individuals in possession of artwork by Currier, conducted during his research on J. Frank Currier, as well as with Elizabeth Dewing Kaup and others concerning his research on Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Miscellaneous material includes reviews of White's autobiography on Abbott Handerson Thayer, and White's ink sketches for a holiday card.

Nelson C. White's writings and notes consist of annotated drafts of Abbott H. Thayer: Painter and Naturalist, The Life and Art of J. Frank Currier, and articles including "Cremona," and "The Art of Thomas W. Dewing."

White's research files form the bulk of the collection. 9 folders of research material on J. Frank Currier consist primarily of photos of artwork and of an installation at Lyman Allyn Museum, but also include a transcript of Currier's 1870 diary, and 3 photographs (copy prints) of Currier. White's research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer is substantial and includes: biographical material on Thayer, such as family reminiscences by Thayer's daughter, Gladys Thayer, and his father, William Henry Thayer; copies and originals of Thayer's letters to his first wife, Kate Thayer, and his second wife, Emma Beach Thayer, and correspondence with William Henry Thayer; typescript copies and originals of Thayer's correspondence with artists, politicians, naturalists and others including George Grey Barnard, Frank Weston Benson, George de Forest Brush, Royal Cortissoz, Maria Oakey Dewing, Thomas Wilmer Dewing , Charles Lang Freer, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent, Edward Martin Taber, and George Alfred Williams; annotated drafts of Thayer's writings and notes on art, philosophy, and nature including his theories on concealing coloration and wildlife preservation; printed material including 2 Thayer exhibition catalogs and news clippings of Thayer's letters to editors; and photographs of Thayer, his family and friends, his home and studio, and his artwork.

Henry C. White's papers include a folder of White's correspondence relating to the publication of his book, The Life and Art of Dwight William Tryon and including a letter from Elizabeth Currier; drafts of his biography of Tryon, including revisions by Mrs. Bender, Alfred Vance Churchill, and Mr. Rossiter; research material on Tryon including transcripts of letters from Tryon to George Alfred Williams, from Charles Lang Freer to Tryon, and from James McNeill Whistler to Henri Fantin-Latour; a typescript of autobiographical "notes and recollections" by Tryon; and photographs of Tryon, his home and studio, his artwork, and the Tryon Art Gallery at Smith College.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 4 series.

Series 1: Nelson C. White Correspondence and Miscellaneous Material, 1921-1953 (Box 1; 0.25 linear feet)

Series 2: Nelson C. White's Writings and Notes, circa 1929-circa 1951 (Box 1, OV 6; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 3: Nelson C. White's Research Files, circa 1851-1961 (Boxes 1-4, OV 6; 2.65 linear feet)

Series 4: Henry C. White Papers, circa 1860-1954 (Boxes 4-5; 1.1 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Connecticut painter, art historian, and collector, Nelson C. White (1900-1989) was born in Waterford, Connecticut, to artist Henry C. White. He studied at the National Academy of Design and Yale University and established himself as a landscape painter whilst also pursuing a literary career. He was the author of two biographies: The Life and Art of J. Frank Currier (1936), and Abbott H. Thayer: Painter and Naturalist (1951). White also penned an article on his friend, Thomas Wilmer Dewing ("The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing"), which was published in 1929.

White's father, Henry C. White (1861-1952), was an artist known primarily for his landscapes and seascapes of his native Connecticut. Born in Hartford, White began his career in 1875, studying with Dwight W. Tryon. In the 1880s he enrolled in the Art Students League in New York, while continuing to study with Tryon and other artists, including Kenyon Cox and George de Forest Brush. In the 1890s he traveled in Europe and then returned to Hartford where he taught drawing at the Hartford Public School, and co-founded the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts in 1910. Like his son, White had literary aspirations, and in 1930 published a biography of his life-long friend and teacher entitled The Life and Art of Dwight W. Tryon. Two years after his death in 1952, the Lyman Allyn Museum held a memorial exhibition for White, curated primarily by Nelson C. White.
Related Materials:
The Archives of American Art holds several collections related to the Nelson and Henry C. White research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and Dwight William Tryon. These include research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1895-1990, donated by Thomas B. Brumbaugh; the Abbott Handerson Thayer letter and drawings to Caroline Peddle Ball, circa 1890-1893; and the Dwight William Tryon papers, 1872-1930.
Separated Materials:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reels 1330 and 2807) including autobiographical notes by Tryon, letters to Nelson C. White and Henry C. white, photographs of artwork, and an article. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
The Archives of American Art purchased two linear feet of material from Nelson C. White in 1956. White also lent material and donated papers in 1978 and 1983.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Nelson and Henry C. White research material is owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Occupation:
Art historians -- Connecticut  Search this
Topic:
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Connecticut  Search this
Painters -- Connecticut  Search this
Art -- Philosophy  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Protective coloration (Biology)  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Wildlife conservation  Search this
Genre/Form:
Diaries
Photographs
Sketches
Citation:
Nelson and Henry C. White research material, circa 1851-1961. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.whitnels
See more items in:
Nelson and Henry C. White research material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-whitnels
Online Media:

Correspondence, Abbott H. Thayer to Clara A. May

Creator:
Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921  Search this
Thayer, Gerald Handerson, 1883-1939  Search this
Names:
May, Clara Adelaide, 1872-1946  Search this
Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921  Search this
Thayer, Gerald Handerson, 1883-1939  Search this
Thayer, Gladys, 1886 or 7-1945  Search this
Turner, David, Dublin.  Search this
Collection Creator:
Brumbaugh, Thomas B. (Thomas Brendle), 1921-  Search this
Extent:
6 Items (Letters, written in ink, graphite)
4 Items (Envelopes)
Type:
Archival materials
Correspondence
Date:
1890-1899
Scope and Contents:
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.
Arrangement:
Organized chronologically.
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.
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.
Local Numbers:
FSA A2009.06 2
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.
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence -- 19th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Identifier:
FSA.A2009.06, Series FSA A2009.06 2
See more items in:
The Brumbaugh Collection of Artist Letters
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a2009-06-ref6
Online Media:

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