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.