Abbott Handerson Thayer - Encyclopedia

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ABBOTT HANDERSON THAYER (1849-), American artist, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on the 12th of August 1849. He was a pupil of J. L. Gerome at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, and became a member of the Society of American Artists (1879), of the National Academy of Design (1901), and of the Royal Academy of San Luca, Rome. As a painter of portraits, landscapes, animals and the ideal figure, he won high rank among American artists. Among his bestknown pictures are, "Virgin Enthroned," "Caritas," "In Memoriam, Robert Louis Stevenson," and "Portrait of a Young Woman"; and he did some decorative work for the Walker Art Building, Bowdoin College, Maine. Thayer is also well known as a naturalist. He developed a theory of "protective coloration" in animals (see Colours Of Animals), which has attracted considerable attention among naturalists. According to this theory, "animals are painted by nature darkest on those parts which tend to be most lighted by the sky's light, and vice versa"; and the earth-brown of the upper parts, bathed in sky-light, equals the skylight colour of the belly, bathed in earth-yellow and shadow.

See his article, "The Law which underlies Protective Coloration," in the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1897 (Washington, 1898); and Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (New York, 1910), a summary of his discoveries, by his son, Gerald H. Thayer.

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