portrait of the artist's sisters and brother


Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921, United States)

Figure paintings

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.

Sofonisba Anguissola [Italian. c.1530/35-1625]
Portrait of the artist’s family: her father Amilcare, sister Minerva, and brother Asdrubale 1558

The portrait of the father Amilcare tenderly keeping a hand on the shoulder of his son Asdrubale is a clear image of the familiar hierarchy: Asdrubale, proudly posing with the sword at his side, is the heir of Amilcare. As in the Chess Game, the plot of gazes is accurately studied. Asdrubale watches at the older sister Minerva, who returns the gaze, while the father is gazing towards Sofonisba. The painting was left unfinished because of the departure of Sofonisba to Spain.

I thought I’d try converting some of my existing birdman OCs into harpies just for kicks and I’m drawing up one who’s an Old Gay Fuck and it occurred to me- Harpy Princes, yes, cool, fine, but have you considered: Harpy Kings?

I’m talking the oldest male harpies, the ones well past their prime, who maybe even grew up in the time before the wars, who still remember when their culture prized art and poetry over battle prowess. Ancient patriarchs and keepers of tradition, who raise the children and preserve their history and are never listened to anymore, because their advice comes from a different time, a different world almost.

All the dad and granddad harpies trying to instill as much of the old culture into their little girl hatchlings before they’re whisked away to war, treasuring old fingerpaint portraits and lumpy clay pots as the last remnants of all the should-have-been artists who died fighting dragons. Old harpy men looking around and realizing that almost all the sisters they grew up with are lost. Not being sure if they’re proud or afraid for their sons and brothers who escape the rookeries. 

Where are all the sad  grandfather harpies I need them.


Painted by Archduchess Maria Christina, this picture shows Maria Theresa and Franz Stephan surrounded by four of their children on the morning of 6 December, the Feast of St Nicholas. The artist has portrayed herself distributing gifts to her younger brothers and sister, while Maria Theresa presides over the scene from behind her husband’s chair. Endowed with considerable artistic gifts, Maria Christina painted several family portraits depicting the imperial family in domestic settings in keeping with bourgeois ideals.



As promised, here are the children of Empress Maria Theresa and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor (well, all except Joseph who married at 19 years old in 1760 with Princess Isabella of Parma). All portraits are by Jean-Ètienne Liotard made in 1762, and with just one look you can see why his portraits were SO famous all around Europe.

1. Maria Anna Josepha Antonia, 24 years old, (born 1738). A very intelligent woman, she was her father’s favourite and had a huge interest in science and art (look at her little book), she never married since she was physically disabled, but was a member of the Vienna and Florence Academy of Arts.

2. Maria Christina Johanna Josepha Antonia, 20 years old, (born 1742). Intelligent and artistically gifted (she’s drawing in this portrait!), she was her mother’s favourite and thus the only child to choose her spouse. Well, that’s a smart girl.

3. Maria Elisabeth Josepha, 19 years old, (born 1743). Considered the prettiest of the sisters, a suitable spouse was not found in proper time and later on was considered to get married with the widowed Louis XV, but the smallpox left her a scarred face and never married.

4. Maria Amalia Josepha Johanna Antonia, 16 years old, (born 1746). Obedient and dutiful, married to the Duke of Parma, the brother of Joseph II’s first wife, with the pressure of her mother: she wanted to marry for love with Prince Charles of Zweibrücken (as Maria Christina did) but Maria Theresa never approved. Her relationship with her mother was always awful.

5. Peter Leopold Joseph Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard, 15 years old, (born 1747). Successor of the grand duchy of Tuscany and engaged to marry the Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain, he was cold, intelligent and steady (all which came handy as the Duke of Tuscany and later Emperor) and is shown here drawing a fort. Later on, his many affairs would be famous and even later he would became Holy Roman Emperor.

6. Maria Joanna Gabriella Josepha Antonia, 12 years old, (born 1750). Considered a good natured and likeable girl she was very close to her sister Maria Josepha and was engaged with King Charles III of Spain’s son, Ferdinand, but she died of smallpox inoculation later the same year this portrait was made.

7. Maria Josepha Gabriela Johanna Antonia Anna, 11 years old, (born 1751). Described as “delightfully pretty, she was (also) engaged with King Ferdinand, but died at 16 years old also of smallpox.

8. Maria Karolina Luise Josepha Johanna Antonia, 10 years old, (born 1752). Very fond of her younger sister Maria Antonia (just look at this pretty portrait of them both!), and the one who finally married King Ferdinand. Not very happy of her marriage she ended up being the mind behind the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily.

9. Ferdinand Karl Anton Joseph Johann Stanislaus, 8 years old (born 1754). When he was 9 years old the Duke of Modena signed a treaty with the Empress Maria Theresa engaging him to his only daughter Maria Beatrice, making him the heir.

10. Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, 7 years old (born 1755). Marie Antoinette excelled at music in her childhood (she was taught by Gluck, so of course she was good!) at age 15 she was engaged to Louis-Auguste the Dauphin of France and well, we all know how it ends.

11. Maximilien-Franz, 6 years old (born in 1756). The youngest child he became Archbishop and Elector Spiritual of Cologne, and went to live in Bonn where he became patron of Ludwig van Beethoven. So this kid had a great musical taste.