Winged Figure Seated Upon a Rock

Artist: Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 213.5 x 153 cm (84 1/16 x 60 1/4 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

angel, United States, woman

To 1915
Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921), Dublin, NH, to 1915 [1]

From 1915 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Abbott Handerson Thayer in October 1915 [2]

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


[1] See Voucher 8, October 1915, 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) and Custodian(s)

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


Winged Figure Seated upon a Rock originated as one of the canvases related to the Stevenson Memorial of 1903, a tribute to one of Thayer's favorite authors, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). The copy was still in the artist's studio in 1914, when Thayer made it into a memorial to his late wife, using Gladys as the model and inscribing a Latin dedication that means "Mother of my daughter! To you this monument." Thayer added a second inscription in April 1916 stipulating that the painting never be retouched, "not one pin-point," a provision meant to make the monument inviolable.

When Freer offeref to buy this emotionally charged painting--"my heart's legacy to the world," as Thayer called it--he must have asked that any remaining copies of the Stevenson Memorial be turned over to him, for another of the trial compositions seems to have made its way into his possession. Although the figure was probably copied by Thayer's student Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), Thayer himself appears to have painted the head, "the dominating central fact" of any of his figure paintings, according to Gladys Thayer. The facial expression, she said, "must sing as it were from corner to corner of the canvas."

Published References
  • Title unknown., February 1915. frontispiece.
  • Richard Murray. Abbott Thayer's Stevenson Memorial. vol. 13, Summer 1999. fig. 17.
  • Nathaniel Pousette-Dart, Royal Cortissoz. Abbott H. Thayer. Distinguished American artists New York. pl. 63.
  • Mary Ellen Hayward. The Influence of the Classical Oriental Tradition. vol. 14, no. 2 Chicago, Summer 1979. fig. 26.
  • Ross Anderson. Abbott Handerson Thayer. Syracuse. p. 77.
  • Homer Saint-Gaudens. Abbott H. Thayer. vol. 33, January 1908. p. 84.
  • Susan Hobbs. A Connoisseur's Vision of America: The American Collection of Charles Lang Freer., August 1977. p. 89.
  • Nelson C. White. Abbott H. Thayer: Painter and Naturalist. Hartford. p. 154.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 158, fig. 106.
  • The Macbeth Gallery. vol. 5, no. 5, March 1915. pp. 192-193.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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