Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Abbott Thayer's Spartan Funeral

William Adair © 2013
Above In September 2013, William Adair (of Gold Leaf Studios in Washington DC) visited the environs of American painter (and "father of camouflage") Abbott Handerson Thayer in Dublin NH, in the shadow of Mount Monadnock. This is an on-site watercolor he made during that sojourn (and mountain climb), showing Dublin Pond, with Thayer's beloved mountain beyond.


From Alice Frost Lord, SUNLIT TRAIL WITH MAINE FOLKS in the Lewiston Evening Journal (Lewiston ME), September 14, 1928—

Now Maine lovers of the beautiful in nature are being appealed to in behalf of another New Hampshire mountain, promoters of the Old Man of the Mountains' campaign having been encouraged by their success to undertake this new venture. The sum of $20,000 is the goal of today.

It is proposed to buy 1300 acres in two mountain townships which include Monadnock—a height famous in prose and poetry of New England, Emerson, Edna Dean Proctor, William Ellery Channing, Whittier, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, John White Chadwick, Richard Burton, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Rudyard Kipling and Lord Dunsany have lauded its beauty in immortal lines.

Abbott Thayer, the artist loved this mountain and spent many hours exploring its heights. His masterpiece of the eminence hangs in the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York today. So did he love the mountain that in acccordance with his wish his body was cremated after this death in 1921 and he was given a "clean Spartan funeral."

In the afternoon of a perfect June day, his son [Gerald Handerson Thayer], barefoot and alone, carried his ashes up the long climb of the great ridge of Monadnock to the open heights. Hermit thrushes, warblers, wrens, all the pensive choir of sundown, sang from the green spruce coverts below. The sun shone full upon the western slope of the mountain; and, overflowing, mantled the summits of the distant Peterborough hills. The gleaming lakes that gem the landscape caught and sent back the deepening colors of the sunset sky. A cool breeze was blowing from the northwest; and up there under the open sky, in the waiting majesty, royal fellowship, and perfect peace of Nature, the ashes of artist and friend were given to the wind and the mountain he loved. Something of his free spirit lingers there, and Monadnock will be forever a prouder and greater mountain because he lavished so richly upon it his genius and affection.

Postcard of Dublin NH in 1906