Plein air art history - Abbott Handerson Thayer,
Abbott Handerson Thayer, "Mount Monadnock," 1911/1914, oil on canvas, 22 3/16 x 24 3/16 in., National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Anna E. Clark Fund)

As a plein air artist, you are part of one of the largest art movements in history. Learn about those who have helped start this movement in some way, and be inspired to continue your own journey of landscape painting. For even more inspiration, subscribe to PleinAir® Magazine.

Our Plein Air Heritage

Better known for his idealistic and allegorical paintings of women as angels and Madonnas, Abbott Handerson Thayer (American, 1849–1921) regarded his landscapes as a form of portraiture. Aiming to stay true to nature, he painted these scenes en plein air, most often finding inspiration in views of Mount Monadnock, which overlooked his studio.

Upon learning that a group of developers wanted to purchase an expanse of “this dear mountain,” Thayer successfully organized the local community around its conservation. To support their work, he founded the Thayer Fund, which, through the National Audubon Society, paid for wardens to protect bird sanctuaries up and down the East Coast.

In this depiction, Thayer cast the majority of the scene in shadow, save for the stark white mountain peak illuminated by the rising sun in the dawn sky. He represented the mountaintop in thick, expressive strokes of paint, further differentiating the peak from the smoothly rendered landscape in the foreground.

So important was the mountain to the artist that upon his death his ashes were scattered on its summit.

> Subscribe to Plein Air Today, a free newsletter for artists


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here