Known primarily for his ethereal angel figures and idealized young women, Abbott Thayer also painted landscapes and delicate florals. As a member of the Ten American Painters, he was part of a rebellion in 1897 of established New York and Boston artists defying traditionalism for Impressionism. However, he did not long remain with the group because he could not commit to the demands of regular production for exhibitions nor to their needs for organizational skills for which he was noted. His few surviving still lifes are Impressionist in style with diffused light.
In 1879, he opened a studio in Brooklyn in the same building as the studios of Thomas Dewing and Daniel Chester French. He became president of the Society of American Artists but resigned, deciding to move to Cornwall-on-Hudson to raise his family.
In 1901, he moved to Dublin, New Hampshire where he joined a colony of artists and lived at the foot of Mount Monadnock. He maintained a lively correspondence with friends including Samuel Clemens, Theodore Roosevelt, and Charles Lang Freer. He built a family compound where he painted portraits of friends, meditative views of the mountain, and a series of angels that seemed very human and were symbolic of his family and his need to protect people, animals, and places he loved.
He became a strong advocate of conservation and founded the Thayer Fund, which paid for the establishment of bird sanctuaries throughout the east coast region.
His last years were devoted to painting Mount Monadnock in a variety of personalities, and his style became increasingly abstract. He died on May 29 in Dublin, and his family scattered his ashes on Mount Monadnock.
Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Art"
Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
William Gerdts, "American Impressionism"