Gerald H. Thayer, Male ruffed grouse in the forest (1907-08). Watercolor on paper. 19.75 inches high x 20 inches wide. First published as an illustration in his book, Concealing coloration in the animal kingdom, New York: Macmillan, 1909. Plate II, 38 (public domain). The original painting is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Roy R. Behrens, “Khaki to khaki (dust to dust): the ubiquity of camouflage in human experience” in Ann Elias, Ross Hartley and Nicholas Tsoutas, eds., Camouflage Cultures: Beyond the art of disappearance. AU: Sydney University Press, 2015—
The grouse [in Thayer’s painting] is completely motionless (a common means of defence among animals) for the same reason that the Ames distorted room [one of the Ames Demonstrations in psychology] works best from a rigid, “frozen” one-eyed view. Motion is a great spoiler of camouflage, and if the grouse moves even a muscle, it will be quickly given away.…
Halter Peter, The revolution in the visual arts and the poetry of William Carlos Williams. Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 125-126—
[From an analysis of a William Carlos Williams poem]…the last lines [of the poem]—“a / partridge / from dry leaves”—contain a reference to the painting Male Ruffed Grouse in the Forest by Gerald H. Thayer…Thayer’s watercolor of a partridge merging with dry leaves and winter trees behind it is related to the Audubon tradition of accurate and loving observation of the American fauna which Wlliams so highly valued…
Moreover, Thayer’s painting is a kind of picture puzzle: Based on the systematic exploration of mimicry in animals, it depicts a partridge that is indeed difficult tell “from dry leaves.’…Williams may well have singled out Thayer’s painting as a work of art that, not unlike his own poem, explores ambiguty and foregrounds the problem of figure and ground. Both painting and poem are about what has to be “figured out”; both contain, in other words, the hide-and-seek dimension that asks for the viewer’s or reader’s active participation.