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Image of Monadnock Angel

Abbott Handerson Thayer , (Aug 12, 1849–May 29, 1921)

Monadnock Angel

1920-1921
91 1/8 in. x 60 in. (231.46 cm x 152.4 cm)

Medium and Support: oil on canvas
Credit Line: gift of anonymous donor
Accession Number: 1930.17

Commentary

Monadnock Angel, the monumental painting that Thayer created at the end of his life, is a testament to all that had interested him throughout his career—the human figure, the concepts of ideal female beauty, the embodiment of historical imagery, as well as the imperative to protect and preserve the natural environment. In his Dublin New Hampshire studio overlooking his sacred Mount Monadnock, Thayer plied his dual interests, capturing the majesty of the mountain before him in transcendent images of natural beauty, and enlisting his children and his neighbors to pose for his idealized paintings of angels and Madonnas. In this case the artist’s daughter Gladys has been robed in classical gown, crowned with a golden halo, supplied with a dramatic pair of feathered wings, and set against a backdrop of Monadnock and its forested foreground, to transform the actual into a heavenly vision of angelic virtue and beauty. Joining Thayer in his interest in Renaissance-inspired imagery was his Dublin neighbor, George de Forest Brush, whose painting of his wife, son, baby daughter, and their nurse set before Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Cornish New Hampshire homestead in the distance, references the traditional typologies of Madonna and Child.

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