Maker(s)
Artist: Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921)
Historical period(s)
1888-1889
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
H x W: 76.3 x 51 cm (30 1/16 x 20 1/16 in)
Geography
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1890.4a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Oil painting

Keywords
portrait, United States, woman
Provenance

To 1890
N.E. Montross (1849-1932), New York to 1890 [1]

From 1890 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from N.E. Montross in February, 1890 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Voucher of February 1, 1890, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

N.E. Montross (C.L. Freer source) 1849-1932
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Label

The handsome Clara Adelaide May (1872-1946) posed for this canvas that Thayer simply called "Head." With that title, he sought to endow his female figure with a monumentality that one contemporary called "the heroic dignity of the Roman matron of legend." Despite Thayer's allusion to classical sources, viewers at the time saw this canvas as a portrait that revealed the young woman's dignified personality. In fact, she was a neighbor girl whom the artist saw often at the summer art colony in Dublin, New Hampshire.

(Quotation from Royal Cortissoz, "Personal Memories," The Arts, [a memorial issue on the artist's death], (June-July 1921))

Published References
  • Prizes for American Artists., October 14, 1890. p. 1.
  • Thomas B. Brumbaugh. An Artist and His Model: Abbott H. Thayer and Clara May. vol. 10, May 1978. p. 25, fig. 2.
  • Nichols Clark. Charles Lang Freer: An American Aesthete in the Gilded Era. vol. 11, no. 4 New York, October 1979. p. 56, fig. 3.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. pp. 155-6, fig. 104.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Related Objects