c. 1890

Abbott Handerson Thayer

(American, 1849-1921)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 117 x 75 cm (46 1/16 x 29 1/2 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph King Collection, in memory of William Macbeth 1918.172



Toward the end of the 1880s, just as Abbott Handerson Thayer's success as a portrait painter reached its peak, his beloved first wife, Kate, was diagnosed with acute melancholia. First hospitalized in early 1888, she died in an asylum in May 1891. In response to this tragedy, Thayer began to make paintings explaining the ideal role of women, both in a spiritual and moral sense.

Thayer believed the high moral nature of women was constantly threatened by their participation in worldly affairs. The ideal women in his canvases are depicted wearing vaguely Grecian costumes, as in this unfinished painting.

Here, Thayer portrayed Hebe, the goddess of youth and spring, as the cupbearer of the gods. As a divine being, Hebe was kept safe from the influence of the outside world, providing Thayer some relief in regard to his anxiety about the changing role of women.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.