Stevenson Memorial is a 1903 oil painting by the American artist Abbott Handerson Thayer, intended to commemorate the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Though Thayer initiated several paintings with the intent of honoring Stevenson, Stevenson Memorial is the only version to survive the artist’s revisions.
Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921, United States)
Thayer was an American artist and naturalist. A painter of portraits, figures, animals and landscapes, he is best known for his paintings of angels and other mystical subjects.
He enjoyed a certain prominence during his lifetime, and his paintings
are represented in the major American art collections. He is also known
for his work in the field of protective colouration in nature, showing
how patterns on animals and insects provided a camouflaging effect.
Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921)
“A Virgin” (1893)
Oil on canvas
Thayer began this group portrait of his children, Gladys, Mary, and Gerald, soon after the untimely death of their mother in 1891. He originally envisioned the central figure, Mary, as Flora, the Greek goddess of flowers, but as the work progressed he decided to make her a Greek “Victory” figure instead, with clouds billowing behind her like wings.
The model for Mary’s dramatic stance is the famous Hellenistic sculpture in the Louvre, the Nike of Samothrace, known as the Winged Victory.