abbott h. thayer

The Sisters (1884). Abbott H. Thayer (American, 1849-1921). Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum.

Dressed in black and set against a muted green background, the Stillman sisters are seen in a doorway. Bessie stands in front. Clara stands behind, and wraps her left hand around Bessie’s waist while resting her right hand on the entryway’s frame. The sisters are noble in comportment and remote in expression. The unusual positioning of their figures implies a complex and intimate relationship.

Gladys (1915). Abbott H. Thayer (American, 1849-1921). Oil on canvas. Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis. 

Gladys, Thayer’s daughter, is shown from the chest up with her head turned to face the viewer. Her skin is a greenish yellow except on her cheeks, which are a rosy pink. Across the top of her left check bone a stroke of white indicates light bouncing off her face. Her eyes are very round, almost unrealistically. The high detail of the woman’s face is in contrast with the rough strokes and detail of her body, hair, and background making her face the focal point of the piece.