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Self-Portrait, about 1898



Abbott Handerson Thayer
Self-Portrait, about 1898
American, 1849–1921
oil on canvas
30.25 x 25.13 inches
(76.84 x 63.83 cm)
Acquired with funds provided by the Lawrence and Alfred Fox Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Edward Abrams
1998.001

Among a generation of skillful American artists whose art matured during the later decades of the nineteenth century, Abbott Handerson Thayer stands out as an especially gifted and original talent. Thayer became noted for his sensitive and evocative portrayals of women, often idealized into images of angels or Madonnas. In later years, the artist produced a series of remarkable landscapes that make evident not only the influence of Impressionism and Japanese prints but also Thayer’s own broadly conceived, richly colored, and abstracted view of nature.

There are eight known self-portraits by Thayer in such collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. The Snite Museum’s painting is closely related to another self-portrait in the collection of the National Academy of Design in New York that Thayer apparently placed there when he applied for membership to the academy. The present version, although clearly an oil sketch and unfinished in appearance, seems to have pleased the artist to the extent that he decided to sign it. With its directly confrontational pose and conspicuous intensity, the painting is a striking example of late nineteenth-century portraiture in the American tradition.