Monadnock in Winter

Artist: Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 90.5 x 90.5 cm (35 5/8 x 35 5/8 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 10: A Perfect Harmony

Oil painting

mountain, United States, winter

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Abbott Handerson Thayer in 1904 [1]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [2]


[1] Object file.

[2] 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) and Custodian(s)

Abbott Handerson Thayer (C.L. Freer source) 1849-1921
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Monadnock mountain rises impressively near the property once occupied by Abbott Thayer at Dublin, New Hampshire. Thayer was profoundly attracted by the mountain, spending many hours on its wooded slopes studying the flora and fauna of the region.

The artist preferred to paint Mount Monadnock during the early morning hours when its peak was struck by sunlight. He emphasized the distant drama of the rising sun by leaving the foreground of the canvas broadly painted and cast into shadow. The artist's distinctive violet and green tones in this area convey a sense of extreme stillness and cold.

Like many of his contemporaries, Thayer studied the seasonal changes as they were reflected in nature, and he recorded them in numerous paintings of Monadnock Mountain.  While he was executing this canvas, for example, he described how he wanted to capture the exact "value of the trees and snow." Thayer's belief in such fidelity to nature was expressed in a letter to Freer in which he called this painting "a winter portrait of Monadnock at sunrise."

The artist was, nevertheless, an expressive painter who depicted far more than just the facts of visual reality. He wanted his works to grip the viewer and convey to him the same emotions felt by the artist in the presence of nature. Thayer told Freer in fact, that he "dreamed" that Monadnock in Winter was "one of my most vivid landscapes or perhaps the vividest."

Published References
  • Burns A. Stubbs. Paintings, Pastels, Drawings, Prints, and Copper Plates by and Attributed to American and European Artists, Together with a List of Original Whistleriana, in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 1, no. 2, 2nd ed. Washington, 1967. pl. 14.
  • Susan Hobbs. Nature into Art: The Landscapes of Abbot Handerson Thayer. vol. 14, no. 3 New York, Summer 1982. pp. 4-55, fig. 1.
  • Ross Anderson. Angel in the Parlor: The Art of Abbott Thayer. vol. 34, no. 1 New York, December 1982. p. 30.
  • Elizabeth Lee. Therapeutic Beauty: Abbot Thayer, Antimodernism, and the Fear of Disease. vol. 18, no. 3 Washington, Fall 2004. pp. 36-38, fig. 6.
  • Homer Saint-Gaudens. Abbott H. Thayer. vol. 33, January 1908. p. 83.
  • Susan Hobbs. A Connoisseur's Vision of America: The American Collection of Charles Lang Freer., August 1977. p. 86.
  • Ross Anderson. Abbott Handerson Thayer. Syracuse. p. 106.
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art: American Paintings to 1945. p. 206, fig. 1.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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